Fort Independence State Historic Site was the Revolutionary War’s largest military fortification. There are ruins of a stockade foundation, blockhouses, hospital and gun batteries. A museum has artifacts recovered during archaeological digs. The visitor center/museum shows a 12-minute video telling the story of military life at Fort Independence.
Four hundred acres of pasture and woodland overlooking Lake Champlain and surrounding countryside of the historic site has four trails. The Baldwin Trail is handicapped accessible with useful signage. Trails are color coded to guide each hiker. Red Trail passes hospital foundation ruins, and a stone foundation that may have been officer’s quarters. Nearing the trails middle a lookout on a ledge gives expansive views of Lake Champlain.
Fort Independence was built atop Mount Independence with Lake Champlain to the west. It was built in conjunction with Fort Ticonderoga that is on the other side of Lake Champlain providing two-shore defense to approaching British Forces in 1775. The fort name was chosen by American troops in honor of the Declaration of Independence.
Mount Independence is on the east side of Lake Champlain in Vermont. The hilltop is about 1.25 miles long and 0.75 miles wide at 200’ elevation. It was originally named Rattlesnake Hill. The mount was an important source of high quality blue/black chert that Native American Indians used to produce tools and weapon points. Chert is a fine-grained silica rich sedimentary rock, with traces of iron.
Lake Champlain is a body of water stretching southward 120 miles from Canada. It ranges from a quarter to 12 miles wide, between New York and Vermont. This body of water is an important connector for water passage from New York City to Montreal through the Great lakes.
Fort Ticonderoga is on the western side of Lake Champlain in New York at 100 Fort Road. It played an important role in both the French and Indian war and the American Revolution.
Orwell is a town of 1,185 population that was settled by Scotsman John Carter after the American Revolution. The town lies in the southern end of Lake Champlain of Champlain Valley. The town has its beginnings as a sheep-raising center.
Historic Site and Visitor Center
497 Mount Independence Road, Orwell, VT
It is 6 miles west of junction of route 73 and route 22A.
Open daily 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day
Admission - $5, ages 0-14 free
There is free parking, picnic tables, clean restrooms and a gift shop.
Fort Independence State Historic Site is a 5 hour drive of 291 miles from Rochester NY. Drive I-90 from Rochester through Albany then route 7 Then drive north on route 22, and east of Rutland route 22A north following signs to Fort Independence State Historic Site.
Here is a visitor’s impression of their visit to Fort Independence.
“The view of Fort Ticonderoga and Mt Defiance are fantastic.”