Fort Ticonderoga

For the last week I’ve been working almost non-stop preparing this whale jaw for my SEAVP presentation, and trying to get other things organized for the meeting (which VMNH is hosting at the end of May). I should have some additional photos of the jaw this week.

In the meantime, as I was going through my photos to prepare my lecture for class tomorrow night, I came across some images I took at Fort Ticonderoga in New York back in 2003.

The fort was originally built by the French in the 1750’s, and captured by the British in 1759. During the American Revolution it was captured by by the Americans, then recaptured by the British (the fort was difficult to defend because of the presence of higher ground within cannon range). After the war it fell into disrepair, but was partially restored and reopened as a tourist attraction in the early 1900’s. Brett had gone there several times as a child, and in 2003 I visited there with her family for the first time.

Most forts from that period were constructed using local materials, simply because it’s cheaper and logistically simpler to do so. The local rocks around Ticonderoga are early Paleozoic rocks (I think the Late Cambrian Pine Plains Formation, but I’m not sure about that). To my surprise, the construction stones were filled with sedimentary structures, and Brett was left to explain to other tourists why I was walking around an historic fort with my camera pointed straight down at my feet. Here are some desiccation cracks:

A variety of ripples:

Tool marks (caused by the collision of objects with the bottom):

And trace fossils:

Interesting geology can show up in all kinds of unexpected places.

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4 Responses to Fort Ticonderoga

  1. Boesse says:

    I completely missed all that when I visited the fort in 2006. I was probably enamored by the revolutionary era cannon and the military museum in there. It was a great thing to see, especially after being dissappointed with Fort William Henry the day before at that god-awful Lake George. I was happy to see an authentic fort that hadn’t been completely ruined by tourism.

    I know everyone says upstate New York is really beautiful and all, and I never quite believed it, especially doing all sorts of backpacking treks in the high sierras in high school. Although it still may not compare in its grandeur to California (or Montana, for that matter), upstate New York is incredible, and has a sort of mystical feeling to it that I don’t experience out west unless I’m on the coast. The Adirondacks were especially beautiful. Still too much poison ivy for my taste, though.

  2. Brian Beatty says:

    Ah, yes… NY is a wonderful place, even Long Island can offer some surprises. Rockaway Beach (of Ramones fame) even has Pleistocene crabs.

    I’m always amazed at the role of fossiliferous sediments in construction. The KU Natural History Museum is made of “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” limestone (as far as I understand it).

    More interestingly, the oldest city in North America, St. Augustine, FL, is best known for the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, which is made of a rock called coquina. Coquina is entirely made of cemented fragments of fossil shells. Because coquina has small spaces in it, it absorbs impacts well by taking small amounts of damage and not allowing for crack propagation (in materials terms, it is very tough). This helped the spaniards there survive cannon fire very well, and is the reason it still stands today. I always thought it was really cool that fossils were in part responsible for keeping one of North America’s earliest cities alive.

  3. Alton Dooley says:

    Part of Fort Morgan in Mobile was made of coquina; I think I posted a picture back around Christmas.

    In the Old Geology Building at LSU (where my office was as a grad student) the bathroom stalls were made of polished slabs of a highly fossiliferous limestone, I believe the Jurassic Smackover Formation.

  4. bill says:

    Most of the original French stone blocks of Fort Carillon [ Ft. Ticonderoga] were taken by local farmers and settlers for their barn and house foundations in Orwell, VT and Ticonderoga after the Revolutionary War. One such foundation is now underground near the International Paper Company site. Other forts in Ticonderoga larger than Fort Ticonderoga were the main source of foundation blocks for houses and barns in Ticonderoga built between 1800 and 1804. Some of these blocks have been located :
    1790“s -one house
    1804-1808- 4 houses
    1841- 3 houses

    All of these blocks 1804 & 1841 are between 5 and six feet long by 1.5-2 ft. sq. There were 3 ancient quarries available for these stone blocks in Ticonderoga. Two have disappeared; one of these 2 was visible in 1950`s when I was a kid . but a third is still here. Local Native American oral tradition handed down speaks of the French obtaining information about a local quarry which hsad already been worked [by whom?] before the French arrived in 1754 in Ticonderoga. Most of these French blocks can be identified because they are dressed [scalloped] in the French style. Other fort stone blocks [not fron Ft. Ti] were dug up from an old barn foundation in Ti. These blocks were 8 feet long and 2-3 feet wide and were so many that they were used to construct a nearby dam.

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