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12. La Chute Falls: The Easiest Route from Canada to Albany by Water
Ticonderoga was not only a significant fort, but it was also the key connecting point between Lake Champlain and Lake George—at least if you want to go the easy way.
Listen to the Turning Point Trail Site 12 Audio Narration:
Ticonderoga means the place between two waters. Lake George to the southwest drains into Lake Champlain via La Chute River. Traditionally, the easiest route from Canada to Albany was to travel south on Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga and there portage—or carry—the boats over a short land pass to Lake George. They would take their boats out of the water and then haul their boats by land over to Lake George. Once they reached the south end of Lake George, they would portage again from Lake George to the Hudson River at Fort Edward. This was the route that Burgoyne intended to take through this wilderness. He wrote about it in his plan “Thoughts for Conducting War from the Side of Canada.”On June 30 at 7AM, a shot was fired from one of the Rebel boats that was patrolling the lake, signaling that Burgoyne’s army had come within view. Major General Baron Riedesel and his Germans were advancing up the east shore toward Mount Independence, while Brigadier Simon Fraser and Major General William Phillips were traveling up the west shore toward Ticonderoga. On July 2, Fraser sent his nephew Capt. Alexander Fraser with the Canadians and Indians, supported by 600 men of the advance corps, around the west to cut off the Rebel retreat to Lake George. Having seen the British approach, the Rebels had set fire to the defensive works on Mount Hope before scrambling back to Fort Ticonderoga. Despite all efforts by the Rebels to fortify their position, Burgoyne had the upper hand.
After leaving Mount Hope Cemetery, turn left toward Ticonderoga. Go over the bridge and park on your right, at the Ticonderoga Heritage Center. Stretch your legs and do the River Walk Trail. You can listen to track 12 while walking the short trail or listen to it in your car here.
La Chute River Walk Trail: Enjoy a short walk along the three-mile trail, a footpath with various interpretive signs, illustrating the history along this small river. Go here, for more information.
Recommended Detour, Portage Road: Once you’ve finished at this site, we recommend taking a short detour along the Portage Road. If Burgoyne had stuck to his original plan, this is the path he and his troops would have taken. They would have carried their boats from below La Chute falls, up along the Portage Road to get to the headwaters of Lake George, which you will clearly see straight ahead of you at the end of Portage Road.
Burgoyne Grill. Restaurant and bar part of the hotel with a variety of standard menu options. 260 Burgoyne Rd. @ Best Western, Ticonderoga.
Burleigh’s Luncheonette. A classic diner with classic diner options and reasonable prices. 121 Montcalm Street, Ticonderoga.
Fort View Inn. The restaurant offers a view of Fort Ticonderoga and a wide variety of foods. Great wings. 325 State Route 22, Ticonderoga. This is also the next stop on your audio tour.
House of Pizza. This pizza shop also has calzones, pasta dishes, seafood, fried chicken, hot & cold subs, appetizers, beverages & many other items. 115 Montcalm Street.
Hot Biscuit Diner. Authentic country diner with hearty fare. 14 Montcalm Street, Ticonderoga.
Wind-Chill Factory. Ice cream, floats, shakes—big portions and a wide variety of flavors. Pizza, subs, and sandwiches too. 794 State Route 9N, Ticonderoga.
A most fortunate coincidence for British intelligence:
“By an extraordinary coincidence, when his captors brought MacIntosh into camp, he recognized Brigadier General Simon Fraser as his onetime commanding officer in the 78th Regiment of Foot during the French and Indian War. During a tedious four-hour interrogation, the “very sensible, cunning sagacious highlander,” as Fraser described him, revealed in minute detail the number of troops, workmen, and wagoners; and the number and description of the ships.” –Richard Ketchum, Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War
General John Burgoyne knows that connecting to Lake George at Ticonderoga is the much easier water-path to Albany. But it may not be possible:
“The immediate possession of Lake George would be of great consequence as the most expeditious and most commodious Route to Albany …. Should those efforts fail the route by south bay and Skenesborough may be attempted, but considerable difficulties may be expected, as the narrow parts of the River may be easily choked up and rendered impassable and at best there will be necessity for a great deal of Land Carriage for the Artillery, Provisions etc. which can only be supplied from Canada.”
After seeing the British approach, the Rebels abandoned Mount Hope:
“Major General Philips took possession of the very advantageous post of Mount Hope this night, and the enemy was thereby entirely cut off from communication with Lake George.… on the same day Major Gen Reidesel encamped on the East Shore in a parallel line with three-mile point, having pushed the reserve forward near the rivulet which is on the east of Mount Independence.” –General John Burgoyne