During my travels, I always love learning more about American history, so when I was traveling through Central New York recently, I knew I needed to check out Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY.
Fort Stanwix National Monument is centered around the rebuilt Fort Stanwix. The fort was originally constructed by the British during the French and Indian War and was later an important site for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. It is also claimed that the fort was the first place where the American flag was ever officially flown in August 1777.
While the original fort was destroyed in 1781, Fort Stanwix was rebuilt in time for the country’s bicentennial in 1976.
Today, the large fort and a great museum are located adjacent to downtown Rome, New York. This makes Fort Stanwix incredibly easy to visit if you find yourself passing through Oneida County.
While there’s nothing to stop you from visiting the rebuilt fort first, I highly recommend first popping into the museum at the start of your visit.
Given that there’s no charge to visit the site, I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the museum at Fort Stanwix.
The museum does a great job blending historical artifacts and information with the stories of four individuals that represent some of the different stakeholders in the fort: a colonial woman, an Oneida woman, a patriot soldier, and a loyalist soldier.
As you walk through the museum, these different characters pop up and tell the story of the fort from their perspective. This was one facet of the museum that I really enjoyed as it provided a well-rounded approach to the story and ensured that many different voices and opinions were instilled in the story of Fort Stanwix.
In addition to these stories, there is a lot of great information about the history of the fort. While the stories told by the characters and much of the fort’s information focuses on the Revolutionary War, there is some really great information about the fort’s construction in 1758 and the role it played in both the French and Indian War and in Native American relations in the following decades.
There is also a great film inside the museum that does a good job covering this history and is well worth taking the time to see.
For kids, there are also some interactive elements scattered throughout the museum such as old games to play, period clothing to try on, and blocks to build a fort.
The recreated Fort Stanwix is located adjacent to the museum building. This is one of the nicer rebuilt forts I’ve seen in my travels, and it’s a lot of fun to walk around it and explore the various corners of the site.
Inside the walls of Fort Stanwix, there is a building that features a diorama of the fort and a large theater. Inside the theater, there is a film that focuses primarily on the Siege of Fort Stanwix in 1777. Even if you watched the film inside the museum, this second one is still definitely worth watching as it covers the siege in a more detailed manner and from a different perspective.
Also around the fort’s interior, you can pop your head into several buildings. These have been recreated to show what conditions were like in the fort including the barracks, the hospital, officer’s quarters, and more. These really add to the visit and helped me to better understand what life was like here in during the Revolutionary War.
If you’re lucky, you might also encounter reenactors in period costume walking around the fort and performing various tasks. During my visit, these reenactors were working on firing a cannon, which was quite interesting to experience.
If you happen to visit Fort Stanwix when it’s closed or simply don’t have a lot of time, there are a few cell phone tour stops around the grounds. These are great because they provide a bit of history about the site that you can enjoy either from outside the fort’s walls or while exploring the site.
To be honest, I was really impressed by my visit to Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, New York. Both the museum and the fort were incredibly well done and offered a wealth of information but still gave the ability to quickly get the most important details if you are short on time or are only looking for an overview.
Even better, since there’s no charge to visit Fort Stanwix National Monument, there’s really no excuse to not stop here while traveling through Oneida County in Central New York.
Fort Stanwix National Monument
Hours: 9a-5p Daily
Address: 100 N James ST
See map below for other area attractions.