Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16--Day 34--What About the Pencils?

For my first day off, I rode 13.5 miles, quite a bit of it uphill. Oh well, it's still a day off in my book.


I took the bags off Tilmann, and rode to Fort Ticonderoga this morning.

Tilmann Fort Ticonderoga photo op

It was called Fort Carillon when the French first built it in 1755. It was part of the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War. It was the site of 5 major battles. When the British seized the Fort from the French, they renamed the Fort Ticonderoga. In 1783, General George Washington decommissioned the Fort. In 1820, William Ferris Pell purchased the Fort property for $11,000. He built a summer house that later became a hotel and a desirable vacation destination. In 1909, Pell's grandson took interest in the property and initiated one of America's earliest restoration projects. For a place with such an important history, you would think it would be a part of the National Park System. It is not. It continues to be run as a non-profit educational organization. It receives no state or federal money. It costs $23 for an adult, but the hotel had a coupon for 10% off.

Cannon overlooking Lake Champlain



I got to the Fort in time for the first tour. The young man, dressed as a French soldier (each year the Fort chooses a particular year in the Fort's history to focus on--this year it is 1757, when the Fort was occupied by the French), gave a brief history lesson on the Fort.

Our French Soldier tour guide

He led us into the Fort Parade Grounds, finished his talk, then let us explore the various exhibits.

The craftsmen building

Small weapons exhibits

More exhibits--this building was recently built. The original powder building was burned and blown up twice.

I looked at everything, but really enjoyed watching the cobblers (shoemakers--they make all the shoes the employees wear--very authentic), and the tailors (they make all the clothing the employees wear). Emma, one of three tailors/seamstresses, said the hardest part is obtaining the fabrics. She said if she could go back to the time period of the Fort, she would go shopping for fabric. The undergarments are made of linen, but linen is processed differently now. The breeches and coats are, of course, made of a slightly felted wool. Emma was sewing, by hand, an officers coat for a reenactment coming up this next weekend. She had a lot of work to do.


I wandered a bit more around the Fort building itself, then returned to the front gate just in time for the Fife and Drum Corps to lead a group down to the King's Garden for the tour there. A bunch of us followed, in step, down to the gardens. 

Fife, Drum, and Flag

Following the Corps to the gardens

Single file now



Our tour guide for the gardens told us about the various plots. Because they are depicting the year 1757, there was a soldiers garden with the veggies that would have been grown in that time--cabbage and greens. The plot is smaller now, but in 1757 it would have been 6 acres of cabbage and greens. That's a lot of cabbage!

Garden tour guide



There was a children's garden, including an alphabet garden. I took photos of the plant letters of Grayson and Harper. 


The walled King's Garden was built by Sarah Pell (the wife of William Pell's grandson). This being July, it was in full bloom.

The Pell Pavillion

Inside the walled garden

Day Lilly


More flower pretties



After the gardens, it was about 12:30, so I took myself back up to the Welcome Center at the Fort, and the Fort Cafe for some lunch. As much as possible, the veggies for the cafe come from the gardens, but they also make food that the soldiers would have eaten. In this case, split pea soup. I fully intended to have the soldiers' special of split pea soup and grilled cheese sandwich (made with bread baked in the brick ovens of the Fort), except I don't really like split pea soup. I had the tuna melt and apple pie.

The view from my table at lunch



Having completed my tour, I returned to Tilmann and headed out. Along the road to the exit, I passed the Carillon Battlefield. Now it is a pleasant grove of trees and grass. 

Carillon Battlefield



Next I wanted to go up to the top of Mount Defiance. I rode into the old part of Ticonderoga, then followed the road to the gate of the road up to Mount Defiance. There was supposed to be a hiking trail to the top, but I didn't see it. I thought maybe it was through the gate (my admission to the Fort included Mount Defiance). I started riding up the road. There was no parking area or signage for a trail. I kept riding up the hill. The hill was steep...very steep. It was a leg and lung buster for sure! I would have been walking if I'd had any gear on my bike!


I finally reached the top in a good sweat. The view was, admittedly, worth the climb. I could see the Fort, and much of Lake Champlain. The ride down was not as fun as would think. In addition to the steepness, the road surface was not the greatest. It was still better than going up!

The Fort and Lake Champlain



I continued through town to work my way back to the hotel. The route goes through the town to get to the ferry across the lake, but tomorrow I'll take the shorter route since I've seen the town now. 


I'm really glad I took the day off to see Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance. I would not have been able to do it justice if I still had to ride.



As for the pencils, it turns out Ticonderoga pencils were not invented in Ticonderoga, but the graphite used in the pencil lead was mined near Ticonderoga. I did see these examples of Ticonderoga pencils in the gift shop.

Ticonderoga pencils!
Heres a parting shot...
Flat Will, can't you read? It says stay off the cannons!


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