The Battlefield Memorial Gateway in the Town of Plattsburgh has the potential to become a major U.S. history attraction not only for the region, but nation and beyond.

The plan is to turn a 7.5 acre tract of land off Route 9 just south of the City of Plattsburgh into an outdoor museum of sorts displaying elements of major battles in the birth of our nation.

The Gateway will pay homage to the Battle of Valcour that was fought on Lake Champlain in October of 1776. The battle featured Benedict Arnold as an American hero before he switched sides and joined the British during the American Revolutionary War.

It also depicts events during the Battle of Plattsburgh on Sept. 11, 1814. The Battle of Plattsburgh was a pivotal battle in the War of 1812 fought on land in Plattsburgh and the surrounding area, and on the water in Plattsburgh Bay.

Crab Island off the shore near Route 9, where 150 soldiers from both the U.S. and Britain were laid to rest after the battle, is a prominent part of the gateway project.

As is Valcour Island where Arnold slipped his ships past the British in the dark of night to stave off defeat.

The plan also gives a nod to the region's role in the Cold War as it incorporates remnants of the old fuel farm for Plattsburgh Air Force Base, which was active from 1955 to 1995.

The idea of the project is to give visitors a chance to see and learn about these key battles that were fought on land and on sea.

The layout will include a "Remembrance Plaza" at the highest point of land overlooking the lake. Shaped like the bow of a ship, the plaza will be the perfect place to host story times for visitors of all kinds.

There will be a children's play area and opportunities to take a boat ride to Crab Island or just go fishing or kayaking.

At a price of about $6 million, the project is quite ambitious, but Town Supervisor Michael Cashman is eyeing several grants and other funding opportunities to pay the cost.

They have already received $250,000 from the Dormintory Authority of the State of New York, which was secured by Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake); $25,000 from the American Battlefield Protection Program; $10,000 from TD Bank and $5,000 from the opening of the new McDonald's restaurant on the shores of Plattsburgh Bay last summer.

Volunteers and help from area American Legion Posts will also help defray cost and make it a true community project.

Cashman said ideally the project will be complete in time for the country's 250th birthday on July 4, 2026.

While the Battlefield Memorial Gateway may not wind up being as big a draw as a Gettysburg or a Cooperstown, it will certainly elevate our area in terms of historical significance and our place in the birth of our nation.

As Supervisor Cashman said, "We, as a region, we're here in the very first paragraph of the American story. We want it to be something that connects our region with the American story as it unfolded."

"That is what this does."

 

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