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Flood waters unearth 18th century fort in Montgomery Co.

Reported by: Katherine Underwood

Videographer: B. Flynn
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Updated: 12/13/2011 6:28 pm
Irene’s flood waters tore up the parking lot at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, uncovering remnants of an 18th century fort.

“For the first time we now know where one block house of Fort Hunter was,” said Archeologist Michael Roets with the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Roets talked to reporters Tuesday while standing in middle of a block house, built by the British to accommodate about 20 soldiers.

“We never would have had this exposed without the flood,” Roets said.

During Irene, raging flood waters ripped up the parking lot and unearthed the foundation of a 24-by-24 foot block house and curtain wall.

Roets said they had found remnants of a Mohawk Indian village in the past and knew there was more artifacts on the property.

“For us, we didn't know how much remained under that parking lot,” Roets said.

Archeologists and residents always knew the British built a fort back in 1712, hence the name, Fort Hunter. But the big question remained, where exactly was it?    

The recent discovery is a big hint.

“We’re hoping that when people come visit they are in awe and they can actually see a bit of history, and in a sense feel a bit more connected to their environment and their town,” said Archeologist Kristin O’Connell who was busy excavating the property on Tuesday.

Experts aren't just interpreting the stone structures, but dozens of artifacts like cuff links, musket balls, and colonial coins made into jewelry. Plus, smoking pipes and wine bottles, all of which help to paint a picture of what life was like in the mid-1700s.

“Being a soldier out here, I would imagine you have lots of time to get into trouble,” Roets said laughing. “There was a lot of drinking and smoking, and historical accounts of confrontations between the Indians and soldiers.”

Experts say the new findings will help write history about the British and the Indians cohabitating in the Mohawk Valley.

The site will be preserved through winter and will eventually be open to the public as part of the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.

The State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation just received a grant to help restore all the landmark signs destroyed by Irene.

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