Old Fort Niagara – Standing Guard Since 1726

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Old Fort Niagara – Standing Guard Since 1726

Old Fort Niagara has dominated the entrance to the Niagara River since 1726. In American hands since 1796, Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813, and then ceded to the US a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. Today, visitors can discover an amazing collection of military architecture, including the oldest building in the Great Lakes region: the “French Castle.” The fort is a New York State and National Historic Landmark and hosts several reenactments each year.

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Old Fort Niagara offers a chance to step back in time to an era when great empires struggled for control of North America. Visit original 18th century buildings, enjoy incredible views and take part in exciting living history programs. The Fort’s Visitor Center offers you introductory exhibits filled with original artifacts and an award-winning 16-minute orientation film. Don’t miss the Fort’s original War of 1812 Flag.

Inside the Fort, you’ll tour original buildings where Native American, French, British and American soldiers lived and worked from the 18th to the 20th centuries. During the summer months you’ll witness musket and artillery firing demonstrations, go on a guided tour, see artisans at work and learn about life on the Niagara Frontier during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

If you visit during one of our special events, you’ll meet reenactors who faithfully recreate the lives of past Fort garrisons and depict the struggles that led to the birth of the United States and Canada. If you visit during the off season, you’ll enjoy self-guided or audio tours and hourly musket demonstrations in addition to the many exhibits and period rooms throughout the Fort. Why not make plans to visit the Fort today? You’ll experience a unique blend of authenticity and drama that brings history alive.

Old Fort Niagra History
The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. During the colonial wars in North America a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital, for it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the heartland of the continent. With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, however, the strategic value of Fort Niagara diminished. It nonetheless remained an active military post well into the 20th century.

Old Fort Niagara

Today, the three flags flown daily above the parade ground symbolize the nations which have held Fort Niagara. Each competed for the support of a fouth nation: the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. The French established the first post here, Fort Conti, in 1679. Its successor, Fort Denonville (1687-88) was equally short lived. In 1726 France finally erected a permanent fortification with the construction of the impressive “French Castle.” Britain gained control of Fort Niagara in 1759, during the French & Indian War, after a nineteen-day seige. The British held the post throughout the American Revolution but were forced, by treaty, to yield it to the US in 1796. Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813. It was ceded to the United States a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812.

Since its return to American hands the second time, Fort Niagara has served as a peaceful border post. The garrison expanded beyond the walls following the Civil War. Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars. The last army units were withdrawn in 1963. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard represents the only military presence on the site.

Old Fort Niagara was restored between 1926 and 1934. It is operated today by the Old Fort Niagara Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Admission fees, Museum Shop sales, grants and donations provide support for operation of the site. Membership in the Old Fort Niagara Association is open to all.

Old Fort Niagara Hours of Operation
The Fort is open year round with the exception of New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
January – June 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
July-August – 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
September – December – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
TICKET SALES CEASE 30 minutes before posted closing time.

Daily programs: Old Fort Niagara offers an orientation video, shown hourly, guided orientation tours, musket demonstrations presented hourly, 18th century mortar firing demonstrations at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. as well as historical foodways programs and artificer (trades) programs.

General Admission to Old Fort Niagara
Check current Old Fort Niagra Admission Charges
Children (5 years old and under): FREE

Dining at Old Fort Niagra
Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day you can lunch in the Fort’s Log Cabin. A reasonably priced menu is offered of hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, wraps, snacks, bottled water, soft drinks, hot chocolate, coffee, shakes floats and ice cream.

Old Fort Niagra Museum Shop
Located in the Visitor Center, the Museum Shop offers a wide array of books, Old Fort Niagara apparel and souvenirs of your visit. The Shop is open at 9:00 am each day. An admission ticket is not required to visit the Museum Shop.

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