Fort Edward - Transportation Center

From prehistoric times the Fort Edward area was always a major transportation center. These two photos, both taken from the same spot on East Road show why. To the west we have the Adirondack Mountains (left photo) and to the east we have the Green Mountains (right photo) of Vermont. That leaves the Hudson Valley as the only reasonable route north and south between the mountains. And the Hudson River has always provided a convenient route via water.

Lake Champlain and the Champlain Valley connects to the northern end of the Hudson Valley, making this the best route to and from Canada. The Lake runs 125 miles north & south, providing easy transportation via boat for most of the route.

There are the rapids at Fort Miller, once known as the Little Carrying Place, and the rapids at Fort Edward, known as the Great Carrying Place ... where Indians once had to carry their canoes overland to Lake George so they could continue their trip via water. That portage was about 15 miles overland, and was the only major non-water portion of the route.

Later, the British built military roads thru the flat area here, and Fort Edward became the main invasion route to and from Canada. The Great Carrying Place became a good spot to build the old military fort. Fort Edward was serviced via boat from points south, and the old military road provided access to points north.

During the French and Indian War, Fort Edward was the 3rd largest city in the American Colonies, after New York City and Boston. There were 30,000 troops stationed here, and sometimes as many as 100,000 ... plus all the tradesmen, farmers, blacksmiths, and camp followers that went with that. This was all because of the transportation opportunities.

In 1755, the French built Fort Carillon on a narrow part of Lake Champlain, protecting the French settlers in the Champlain Valley from the British to the south. In 1759 during the French & Indian War, the British took the fort and renamed it Fort Ticonderoga. In 1775 at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold led a small band of rebels and penetrated the Fort capturing some 60 tons of military supplies incuding 59 cannon, which were transported to Boston to break the British naval blockade there.

In 1823, the Champlain Canal was built overland, connecting Lake Champlain to the Hudson River, thereby providing a continuous water route from New York City to Quebec. A major dry dock for repairing canal boats was built in Fort Edward, now in the woods behind Culver Street.

In 1848, the railroad opened through Fort Edward. The photo is the present train station, built in 1900 to replace various previous buildings there. A major train switching yard was built along East Street where trains were sorted and assembled. As late as the 1960s the switching yard remained in operation, and it sounded like thunder as the cars were banged together to couple them. Today, trains are no longer assembled here, and the old rail yard is used by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as a base for track maintenance.

Today, Fort Edward is a farming community, made possible by the flat fertile land between the two mountain ranges. John Deere rules here now.

This mural was painted by our friend Adam DeVoe on a building at the corner of East Street and Broadway, to memorialize Fort Edward as a transportation center.