CROWNPOINT-The Crown Point State Historic Site has a long history, but its top attraction this summer may be something that is yet to happen.
The site - open in the summer only - is the prime location to watch construction of the new Lake Champlain Bridge that links Crown Point with Chimney Point, Vt.
"Come view the Lake Champlain Bridge, a once-in-a-lifetime sight, not-to-be-missed," said Tom Hughes, site manager. "Take the day off - bring your cameras and your binoculars."
A highlight of the bridge construction will be the arch-raising. No date has been determined for the structural feat.
The Champlain Bridge linking Crown Point o Addison, Vt., was abruptly closed in October 2009 when engineers discovered dangerous deterioration of the structure. It served about 4,000 vehicles a day.
A ferry service now links Crown Point and Vermont.
The bridge was demolished in December 2009 and construction started on a new bridge in June 2010. The new bridge is expected to be open to traffic by October 2011.
The contract to construct the new Champlain Bridge has been awarded to Flatiron Constructors of Lafayette, Colo. It was the low-bidder at $69.6 million, which is about $10 million under engineering estimates.
The 300-foot-wide bridge will be based on a modified network arch design and will include bike paths and pedestrian walkways on both sides.
The Crown Point State Historic Site will mark its 101st anniversary this year. The historic fort ruins at Crown Point became a permanently-preserved state park April 22, 1910.
Crown Point State Historic Site is one of 35 historic sites and 174 parks operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It boasts two National Historic Landmarks on 380 acres of Lake Champlain waterfront, the stone remains of the French-built Fort St. Frederic (1734-1759) and the British Crown Point fort (1759-1773).
Both sites have endured through the centuries as authentic ruins, allowing guests to see the foundations of the forts in their original locations and to imagine the forts as they were in the 1700s, when they teemed with activity.
Each year the site hosts a pair of major events, a French & Indian War encampment in August and the annual Festival of Nations in September.
The French & Indian War encampment will feature British and French soldiers, Canadian militiamen, Woodland Indians, boatmen, and civilian re-enactors at the tactical weapons demonstrations.
The historic site museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and closed on Tuesday.
Construction of Fort St. Frederic was complete by 1734. It included a four-story high tower, commander's quarters, canon, a powder magazine, bakery and other buildings surrounded by an outer stone parapet wall that was nearly square and had six corner bastions covering about an acre. It was the base of three major French operations until July 1, 1759, when the British forced its 200-man garrison to blow up the tower and retreat.
The British did not build a new fort on top of the French ruins. Instead they took three years to construct a new fort, Fort Crown Point, adjacent. A stone and timber fortress, the new fort was a half mile in circumference and shaped like a pentagon. The parade ground covered six acres and contained three stone, two-story barracks, a guard house and an armory. The 40-foot high outer wall was 22-feet thick of timber and limestone, making it Britain's greatest military installation in North America.
Fort Crown Point was the launching point for British forces that brought about the surrender of Montreal in 1760. The fort was destroyed April 23, 1775, when a fire ignited the powder magazine and its 100 barrels of powder causing a huge explosion.
Americans captured the remains of the fort May 11, 1775, and its 111 canon. They transported 29 of the canon overland to Boston to lift the British siege.
For more information, contact Crown Point State Historic Site call 597-4666 or visit www.nysparks.com.