The Adirondacks region is known for its incredible outdoor recreation, but there is also a lot of fascinating history to explore in the area.
One such spot is Fort William Henry in the town of Lake George. Located at the end of the large lake of the same name as the town, Fort William Henry was built in 1755 during the French and Indian War to help secure this portion of the state.
The fort only existed for two years but was the site of a French siege in the summer of 1757 and a subsequent massacre of British forces by Native Americans after they had surrendered the fort. These events were depicted (somewhat fictitiously) in the 1826 novel “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Finnemore Cooper.
After the siege, Fort William Henry was burned to the ground by the French.
Over the next two centuries, the community of Lake George sprang up at the southern end of the lake, but there was still interest in the unique military history of the area. So, in the 1950s, the fort was rebuilt to provide visitors with information about the French and Indian War in the region.
Today, Fort William Henry is still a great spot to explore when visiting Lake George in Warren County, New York.
Fort William Henry is located on the southern end of town near the Fort William Henry Hotel and the Lake George Steamboat Company. The fort has been beautifully recreated, so take a minute to walk around the exterior before entering.
As soon as you walk through the main entrance, there are displays that offer a bit of information about the fort and its history. There is also a large gift shop here that provides not just souvenirs for the fort, but also those that represent the entirety of the Adirondacks.
The interior of the fort is filled with a ton of displays and great information about the fort, the French and Indian War, and the history of northern New York.
Start your visit with the fort’s fantastic film. It offers a great overview of the history of the fort and how the French and Indian War impacted this part of the state. If you aren’t familiar with the region’s past, this definitely will give you a great appreciation for the history here.
From there, work your way around the fort making sure to pop into each interior space as they feature some really fantastic displays. These include information on the fort and the siege that took place here, the history of the local Native Americans, and even underwater excavations from the lake.
Throughout these display areas, there is a combination of signage and historic artifacts that are really nicely laid out.
There are also several rooms that feature manikins in dioramas that help to tell the story of what life was like in a frontier fort in the mid-18th century. There are also dioramas that teach about the life of the region’s Native Americans.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my visit to Fort William Henry was the costumed interpreters and demonstrations they held throughout the day.
If you couldn’t tell from my photos, it was absolutely pouring rain during my visit, so some of the demonstrations had to be canceled. Even so, the costumed interpreters still offered talks about the era and shot off a historic rifle to show us how it was done.
I also appreciated that these interpreters also took the time to point out the three original parts of the fort that still exist: the walkway into the magazine, the well, and a stone fireplace. This gave me a much greater appreciation for these historic parts of the fort when I had a chance to see them.
Overall, I found my visit to Fort William Henry to be really fascinating. As someone that loves learning about the history of different regions, I really learned a lot and gained a greater appreciation for the area.
If you find yourself visiting Lake George and the Adirondacks and want to learn more about the history of this popular outdoor destination, I highly recommend a visit to Fort William Henry.
Note: My visit to Fort William Henry was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Fort William Henry
Hours: Daily: 9:30a-6p
Cost: Adults: $15, Children: $8
Address: 46 Canada St