ALBANY, N.Y. — A national archaeology preservation organization has acquired an upstate New York property that was home to a Colonial-era blockhouse built to guard Britain’s largest North American fortification during the French and Indian War.
Andy Stout, eastern regional director for the Albuquerque-based Archaeological Conservancy, said Monday that the nonprofit group recently closed on the purchase of 12 acres just outside Fort Edward, on the Hudson River 45 miles north of Albany.
The property on a wooded hill in the town of Moreau, across the river in neighboring Saratoga County, was the site of the Royal Blockhouse, built in 1758. The large wooden structure was part of a sprawling British and provincial American military complex that included Fort Edward and nearby Rogers Island.
Stout said the blockhouse property is unique among U.S. archaeological sites because it was part of England’s largest fortification in North America during the war the English and French fought from 1755-63 for control of the continent. The complex included outer defenses such as blockhouses, Fort Edward itself, and Rogers Island, the base camp for the famed Rogers’ Rangers, American frontiersmen who served as scouts for the regular British army.
Rogers Island is considered the birthplace of today’s U.S. Army Rangers.
“These are the locations where America played out,” Stout said.
Amateur archaeologists and relic hunters had dug at the site for years, but professional archaeologists have also conducted excavations there, and the artifacts they uncovered are being turned over the New York State Museum this week, Stout said.
“It’s not often you get the chance to acquire a site and a collection from it,” he said.
There are no immediate plans for any more digs, but archaeologists can apply to the conservancy to conduct excavations at its properties, Stout said.
The Royal Blockhouse was one of the two largest built by the British in the colonies during the French and Indian War, according to David Starbuck, a professor at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University who has led archaeological digs at 18th-century military sites in the Fort Edward and Lake George areas.
Contemporary British maps and plans of Fort Edward include the Royal Blockhouse, described as three stories tall and 90 feet long on each of four sides, with a cellar, and surrounded by a dry moat. Typical blockhouses were two stories and no more than 30 feet long to a side, Starbuck said. Built on a hill with a commanding view of the upper Hudson Valley, the Royal Blockhouse was armed with several cannon and garrisoned by about 200 redcoats and other soldiers, he said.
Stout said the preservation group paid $90,000 for the Royal Blockhouse property, with about half of it coming in a grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The organization had previously purchased 5 acres adjoining the site. The additional 12 acres purchased by the organization this fall was formerly owned by Long Island businessman and Rogers Rangers buff Frank Nastasi, who died in 2007.
Nastasi’s son, Anthony, had inherited the blockhouse site, along with more than 30 acres his father owned on Rogers Island. The state had intended to buy the island property and turn it into a public park, but backed out because of budget problems. The village and town of Fort Edward have applied for a state grant to purchase the 34-acre island parcel.
The Royal Blockhouse is considered a potentially key component in the Fort Edward area’s plans to turn its many 18th-century historical resources into tourist dollars.
The Archaeology Conservancy owns more than 400 sites in 41 states, including 13 across New York. The upstate properties include 16th- and 17th-century Iroquois village sites outside Syracuse and Buffalo.
Dec. 19, 2011 9:10 a.m.
By The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — A national archaeology preservation organization has acquired an upstate New York property that was home to a Colonial era blockhouse built to guard Britain’s largest North American fortification during the French and Indian War.
Officials with the Albuquerque-based Archaeological Conservancy said Monday that the nonprofit group recently closed on the purchase of 12 acres just outside Fort Edward, on the Hudson River 45 miles north of Albany.
The property on a hill across the river in neighboring Saratoga County was the site of the Royal Blockhouse, built in 1758 and garrisoned by British soldiers. The three-story wooden structure was part of a large military complex that included Fort Edward and nearby Rogers Island.
Artifacts uncovered during excavations at the site are being turned over the New York State Museum.