National Parks - New York

Fort Stanwix National Monument

My husband and I are crazy. I mean, he’s mostly sane, it’s really just me that’s crazy. But he has put up with me and my nutso ideas for almost forty years, so that’s really on him at this point.

But I digress.

The latest crazy thing that we have decided to do is to visit all 63 of the National Parks. Which, you know, cool! We’ll be empty nesters soon and we’ll need to do something with our time. But then that kinda morphed into visiting all of the National Parks and all of the other sites in the National Park system. No big deal, that’s only 429 places to visit. Why not?

So in true Jennifer fashion, I went all in on this idea. Bought a book on the National Parks (highly recommend, by the way). Bought a freaking road atlas for the first time in a couple of decades. Started planning itineraries for trips we won’t be able to afford to take for years. Made an Instagram with our snazzy username of Parkes and Marriners (a play on our last names – cute, huh?) and an adorable little logo, followed ALL of the National Parks over the course a few days, which promptly got our account flagged as spam because Instagram is stupid. Rookie mistake. Made a new Instagram account with a slightly different name and didn’t follow anybody right away. So far so good there.

While I was off in la la land with my planning and my designing, Vance was being the practical one (his role in our relationship) and suggested that the first stop on our grand National Parks adventure should be Fort Stanwix, located in Rome, NY. Just a little over an hour away from home, it was the perfect place to start.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day to be out and about, sunny but not too hot. We took our traditional pre-road trip selfie in the car before we headed out, and then we hit the road.

When we arrived at Fort Stanwix, my first thought was, “wow, it’s right in the city.” I wasn’t expecting that. My second thought was, “wow, it’s tiny.” Now this thought is probably a bit ungenerous, but I grew up visiting Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY, and still go there occasionally, so my perspective for a “fort” is based on this experience. And while Stanwix is smaller than Ontario, it is still a nice size place to visit and explore.

Before we headed out to the fort itself, we spent a little time perusing the displays in the Visitor Center. There was a lot of good information there for the history-challenged (me), and several opportunities for the history nerd (Vance) to share his wealth of knowledge and help fill in any gaps. For a brief overview of why Fort Stanwix, a.k.a. “the fort that never surrendered,” was a key to victory in the American Revolution, this page has a ton of information.

We also made a quick stop into the gift shop because I absolutely had to have a Buddy Bison to accompany us on all of our National Parks travels. There had been much discussion about exactly what would be a proper mascot to join us in pictures, and Vance even dared to question the necessity of such a thing, but he quickly learned the error of his ways. Once we had this last important member of our traveling party, we set out to see the fort.

As you can see, the outside of the fort is really cool, low to the ground yet deadly looking with all of those spiky logs sticking out of the sides. Some of these pics I really wanted to render in black and white because the play of light and shadows was just screaming for it, but I also wanted to highlight that absolutely perfect sky. As Vance mentioned, it almost looked fake, like a background set in a movie.

The grounds of the fort included a couple of cannons, one of them ridiculously tiny and the other more in line with what I think of when I think of a cannon. There were lots of little hidden areas to explore, replicas of officer and enlisted men quarters, and other colonial era features. The majority of the fort itself is a reconstruction of the original, most of which was destroyed by weather and fire. There is a small piece of the original fort on site, however – a piece of an old brick hearth located in a room too dimly lit for me to snap a photo.

Once we had finished poking our heads into all the little nooks and crannies of the interior, we climbed the steps to the top, which probably has a fancy fort-y name, but it’s just “up top” to me. This area has a large American flag (husband used for scale), some more cannons, and a great view. Of course, that view includes a lot of the downtown area of Rome, so that kind of breaks the illusion of being in a Revolutionary era fort.

Back down into the interior, Vance chatted up a couple of the “locals” (and I snagged a selfie with one of them) and I turned my camera to the big doors. As a photographer, I have always been a bit obsessed with unique and interesting doors, and the same held true with the ones at Stanwix. Such amazing texture, and some good rusty bits.

And we didn’t forget about Buddy Bison! He made his rounds of the fort with us, and even survived my attempt to shoot him out of a cannon.

Once we finished touring the fort, we headed back into the Visitor Center and hit up the gift shop once again, this time for all of the merch! The first order of business was to obtain our National Parks passport. We’ve bought the little ones a couple of times in the past on previous adventures, but they are lost to time at this point. And we want to start this whole thing from scratch, not counting any of our previous park visits (we’ve pretty much already done everything in D.C., but this is an excuse to revisit!). So with a true “go big or go home” attitude, we got the gigantic Explorer passport. And more importantly, we got our very first cancellations!

We were lucky to get two additional ones, because Fort Stanwix also lies within the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

We also snagged the obligatory patch, pin, and postcard, as well as a few other goodies. I love starting new collections!

And that’s a wrap on our very first National Parks visit! Stay tuned for more Marriner mayhem in the coming days and weeks. And months. And years. There’s a lot of the country out there for us to see!

Info for other National Park geeks:

Cancellations available:

  • Fort Stanwix National Monument
  • North Country NST
  • Erie Canalway NHC

Junior Ranger: yes

B.A.R.K. Ranger: yes

One comment on “Fort Stanwix National Monument

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *