During the Revolutionary War, the lower Hudson Valley was strategically very important, and, to secure this area, a series of forts was built overlooking the river. One of these was Fort Montgomery (known today as Fort Montgomery State Historic Site).
Fort Montgomery was constructed beginning in March 1776 to protect the river and keep the British from controlling the Hudson and cutting the colonies in half. It was attacked by the British and burned in October 1776 before the fortifications were able to be finished. During the fighting, more than half of the American forces were killed, wounded, or captured.
Today, little remains of Fort Montgomery, but visitors can tour a small museum and explore the well-marked grounds (as well as see some ruins from the fort), which make it a nice stop between the West Point Museum and the Stony Point Battlefield for those that love history.
The site is located in Orange County, New York, adjacent to Bear Mountain State Park, and about 40 miles north of New York City on the western shores of the Hudson River. (Note that the parking area is only accessible on Route 9W for cars heading north.)
The museum at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site is only a single room but does a fairly good job covering the site’s history and the events that happened here during the Revolutionary War. The map of the battlefield is especially helpful and also shows the now-mostly-destroyed Fort Clinton, which once sat on the other side of the Popolopen Creek.
Around the museum, there are a series of displays that offer info on the battle and the soldiers who fought here. There are also a few mannequins dressed to show soldiers, though two of them have comically bad faces and look more like retrofitted zombies than actual soldiers.
While at the museum, make sure to check out their 15-minute film on the battle. Despite the film being a bit cheesy in parts, I found it to be very informative, and definitely something those really interested in understanding the site should watch.
While the museum and film are well done, you’ll likely spend most of your time exploring the grounds around the site. A map of the grounds is available from the museum and is quite helpful in finding your way around the site.
As you walk the grounds, there are a series of signs that tell you more about the fort that once stood here and the battle that happened on this site. The signage is decent, though it doesn’t go into a ton of detail and seems more geared toward those who just want a basic overview of the grounds.
You’ll also find several foundation ruins spread throughout the grounds of the historic site. These were buildings and fortifications that were built here in 1776, so they are neat to see and help bring the site to life a bit more.
If you’re visiting this spot, you’re most likely interested in the history of the fort and battlefield. However, make sure to take some time to appreciate the fantastic views overlooking the Hudson River, as well as the imposing Bear Mountain Bridge.
These views over the river were the reason this fort was built here, and you can clearly see how this would have been an advantageous position in the 1770s.
If you want even more great views, take a short walk out onto the sidewalk on the Popolopen Arch Bridge, which is just south of the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site. The views of the river valley and the large suspension bridge over the Hudson are truly incredible from here.
You can also follow the site’s trails downhill to a bridge over the Popolopen Creek. The trails then head up to a small section of ruins from Fort Clinton on the other side of the creek valley.
Due to time, I was unable to check out this other side during my visit, but if you have the time and are looking for a nice hike, this is a great choice.
Overall, Fort Montgomery State Historic Site isn’t what I’d consider to be a must-visit spot. However, if you love learning about the Revolutionary War history of the region, this is definitely a nice spot for a quick stop while exploring the area.
Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 10a-5p
Address: 690 Rte 9W