Should you climb or drive the humble dirt path behind the Fort Plain Museum to the hilltop, you will be captivated and fascinated by the grounds. Despite the absences of preserved structures or grand monuments, there is plenty to discover.
Look down and be careful not to stumble into trenches carved more than 240 years ago by America’s earliest citizens. Look out from the vista to see where the Mohawk River and Otsquago Creek meet. These were critical tributaries to protect military forces at the time and a beautiful sight to take in today.
It’s the places and moments like these that make Montgomery County one of the premier American historical experiences in the country. The 75 acres of discovery that make up the Fort Plain Museum & Historical Park are a great gateway into the American Revolution and Colonial era that defined this region known as Mohawk Country.
Fort Plain, after all, carved its name in early American history as a supply depot for military operations that ultimately made the Revolutionary War winnable and a young country prosperous.
July 4th, 1776, was the founding of the nation and at the founding, this was the big frontier. The path through the Mohawk Valley was the only way to get to the interior of the country. And so, this small corner of Montgomery County became a critical outpost in the war efforts. There are five other notable Colonial sites within three miles of Fort Plain, each with their own stories.
The names of George Washington and Benedict Arnold are sprinkled into the tales of Mohawk County, as are a litany of lesser-knowns who are no less interesting. In nearby Canajoharie, the Van Alstyne Homestead was an unofficial headquarters for political and military leaders of the day, who commissioned Nicholas Herkimer as the first colonel of the Tryon (modern-day Montgomery) County Militia. That group was an essential force in early Revolutionary War battles to the west.
Montgomery County itself is home to two important battlefields at Fort Klock and Stone Arabia. Burned to the ground by the British during a series of destructive raids in 1780, the Stone Arabia Dutch Church was rebuilt in 1788 and has remained virtually untouched since. Its historic charm spans all of early American history, as a 13-star flag that dates back to before the Civil War still hangs there.
Another battle site at Fort Klock, a National Historic Landmark in St. Johnsville, comes with its own significance. It was the last clash between Patriots and the British during an aggressive push through the Mohawk Valley during 1780. Today the fortified homestead built by a prominent Palatine German immigrant of the day is a living history attraction. The 30 acres that make up Fort Klock include a restored Dutch barn, blacksmith’s house and 19th-century schoolhouse that seasonally entertain history buffs and families alike.
Reenactments are a big part of the travel experience through these six sites with each hosting at least one annual event. The Palatine Church, spared during the 1780 raids by request of its British Loyalist resident, also has a place in more recent history. It was the fictional site of the wedding of Gilbert and Lana Martin in the popular novel and 1939 film Drums Along the Mohawk. Each July, the wedding is reenacted at the Palatine Church with a re-created reception at the 1747 Nellis Tavern in St. Johnsville. Owned by a British sympathizer who fled prior to the Revolutionary War, the tavern was fortified by Patriots and briefly known as Fort Nellis.
Today, the completely restored structure included on the National Register of Historic Places is open for viewing and tours seasonally. Your weekend or even day itinerary could easily include all six locations strung together along the beautiful backroads of Montgomery County.
On the Underground Railroad
When you think of the Underground Railroad, legendary figures such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Gerrit Smith and John Brown come to mind. But did you know that Montgomery County families like the Clizbes, Hagamans, Swarthouts, Hartleys, Voorhees and Freys were involved in the movement as well?
The whole movement consisted of not only the physical transport of freedom seekers, but also the participation in the anti-slavery conventions, church rallies and financial assistance that were prevalent here in Montgomery County from the early 1800s through the end of the Civil War. Many local African American families such as the Hokes, Jacksons, Bloods, Wilsons and McKinneys were part of the story as well through their ancestral ties to slavery.
Dig a Little Deeper Into Our Rich History
Select a link below!
1747 Nellis TavernState Route 5, 1 mile east of St. Johnsville
Ames Museum611 Latimer Hill Road, Ames NY
Amsterdam Castle49 Florida Avenue
Charleston Historical SocietyPolin Road west of St. Hwy 30 A, Charleston
Cycling the Erie Canal -A Path Through History on Travelstorys App
Department of History and ArchivesOld Courthouse in Fonda, 9 Park St.
Erie Canal Lock 33Dump Road, Minden
First Baptist ChurchPolin Road, Charleston
Fort Klock Historic Restoration7203 State Route 5, St. Johnsville
Fort Plain Museum389 Canal St. (Route 5S), Fort Plain
Glen Historic DistrictNY 30A, NY 161 and Logtown Road, Glen
Green Hill CemeteryChurch and Cornell, Amsterdam
Guy Park State Historic SiteEvelyn Street & West Main Street,
Historic West Hill School3 Otsego Street, Canajoharie
Isaac Paris HouseFort Plain
Little Red SchoolhouseCemetery Street, Fonda
Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook1 Bridge Street
Amsterdam NY 12010
Mohawk Valley Path Thru History
Mohawk Valley Welcome CenterMilepost 187 Westbound, I-90 Randall
National Shrine of Kateri Tekakwitha3628 St Hwy 5, Fonda
Nelliston Historic DistrictProspect, River, Railroad and Berthoud streets, Nelliston
Old Fort JohnsonJunction of Route 5 and Route 67 in Fort Johnson, NY, about 1 mile west of Amsterdam, NY
Old Grist Mill1679 Mill Road Saint Johnsville, NY 13452-3911
Old Palatine ChurchEast of Palatine Bridge on NY 5, Nelliston
Palatine Bridge Freight HouseEast of Palatine Bridge on NY 5
Pawling Hall86 Pawling Street, Hagaman
Private Homes on the National Register of Historic PlacesSchool Street, Nelliston
Saint Johnsville Community House16 Washington St., St. Johnsville
Saint Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church42, 46, 50 Cornell Street; 73 Reid Street, Amsterdam
Samuel Sweet Canal Store65 Bridge Street, Amsterdam
Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site129 Schoharie Street, PO BOX 140
Fort Hunter NY
Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs136 Shrine Rd., Fultonville (Auriesville) 12072
Soldiers and Sailors ParkEast Main Street
St. Johnsville, NY 13452
Stone Arabia ChurchesRoute 10, Stone Arabia
Temple of Israel8 Mohawk Place, Amsterdam
Town of Florida Veterans Memorial Park214 Fort Hunter Road, Amsterdam NY
Tribes Hill Heritage CenterTribes Hill, NY
Van Alstyne Homestead Society and Museum42 Moyer St, Canajoharie
Windfall Dutch Barn2009-2019 Co Hwy 80
Fort Plain, NY