5/24/14 Saturday in Lockport, NY (Niagara Lazy Lakes-ROD)
Sunny, gorgeous day. We’d learned that during this weekend there would be special Soldiers Through The Ages exhibits, so we headed there. Admission: $11/senior-65 yrs old. There is a museum at the visitor center (State, not Federal).
The Iroquois Confederacy (5 Indian Nations: Seneca, Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga and Oneida). This is a replica of the Longhouse, where the Iroquois lived before the 18th century. Several of these were constructed near the Fort for French allies. Every year a 4th grader at the Tuscarora Indian Elementary School builds a model with 3 chosen for display in the region. The next image is of the Falls in the early years. The next shows New York State (New York City is on Manhattan Island at the bottom right), with how the Confederacy was between the French on the left (West) and British (East) settlements. They kept a neutral stance, so it was a long time before the British were able to get to Fort Niagara and wrest it from the French. With the Revolutionary War the Americans got control from the British. This is the original garrison flag that was raised over the Fort then. Unfortunately the British got it when they captured the Fort in the War of 1812, then it was largely destroyed by a fire in the Scottish castle of the man who’d received it (British commander of the troops who captured the fort). The parts that look like coffee stains are the original parts that survived. This is one of the few flags made with 15 stars and 15 stripes. As states were added to the Union, that number of stars and stripes were added but in1813 Congress made a law limiting the stripes to 13 (for the original 13 colonies) and allowing the stars to reflect the number of states.
We happened upon a guide when we got to the first gate. He was very helpful. The last 3 images are from the black powder magazine (magazine is French for storage, just like a magazine stores information). Black powder will explode while gun powder simply ignites into flame. No lights or metal were allowed in this very thickly constructed building. These barrels to hold the powder were made in Scotland, without any metal bands.
The Castle – the original Fort, built by the French. It resembles a typical French farmhouse. A trading area. What the Indians really wanted were the metal implements. An inside shutter to protect those inside. The long table and fireplace for the Boulangerie (Bakery) where hired bakers made the bread that was all the enlisted men got to eat (outside of vegetables from a garden outside). A chapel for the Catholic soldiers, even a holy water font carved into a corner for the soldiers as they entered. Barracks for the enlisted men (4 per mattress so they could be warm). Two tined forks for officers’ dining. These were used to scoop the food onto the wide dull knife from which they ate their food. In the officers’ dining room there was this hot water holder that allowed a little water for cleaning their hands. They ate meat with their hands. Officers’ bedroom. Neat sunlight patterns.
Lighthouse, moved inland from the beach which was being eaten away by the water.
We enjoyed a demonstration of the evolution of fighting weapons (and tactics):
Vikings, all up close with spears and knives
Match Lock guns: a thick rope is lit (the match) and after much adjusting and cleaning, it’s used to light the fuse.
Revolutionary War-Flint Lock guns: don’t have to hold the match in one hand (glowing in the dark) while getting the gun ready to shoot. Now many can shoot while another line of men get their guns ready for the next round of shots. They needed a lot of shots because these were so unreliable (smooth bore). Not good in the rain.
Civil War- rifled guns (okay in the rain) which are much more accurate. Percussion caps are used to fire the weapon (instead of the match or the flint)
Spanish American War-Shells can be fired, so many (5) can be lined up in the gun before shooting, so time between shots is much quicker.
WWI-clip loading the shells, just need to shift the bolt between each shot. Doughboy and Springfield rifles were used.
WWII-M1 style guns. You can keep it at your shoulder and keep firing a 10-15 round clip of ammunition. The last is a Canadian from WWII.
We came home for a late lunch. This part of New York is agricultural; farms, horses, orchards and vineyards. Small plots, like truck gardens. They even have road signs indicating Amish buggies, but we haven’t seen any. We relaxed the rest of our day.