Description - Mount Independence is designated a National Historic Landmark and has been called one of the most interesting and important historic sites in Vermont. Explore the several miles of hiking trails that wind past the batteries, blockhouses, hospital, barracks and other archaeological remains of this once-bustling fort complex. A new visitor center and museum is open daily, late May through mid-October, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Atop this rugged promontory along the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain, American Revolutionary troops built a fort complex to guard against a British attack from Canada. The troops named it Mount Independence in honor of the Declaration of Independence. This new fort faced north and stood across the lake from the fort at Ticonderoga, which because of its southerly posture and poor condition, provided little protection. After the unsuccessful American attack on Canada in late 1775, the British intended to counterattack and eventually crush the Revolution by dividing New England from the rest of the colonies.
Under orders from General Philip Schuyler, American troops began clearing land at Mount Independence in June of 1776. By fall, three brigades had established camps of huts and houses. A large shore battery and a horseshoe battery were completed and a picket fort was under construction. So impressive was the combined sight of Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga that British General Guy Carleton quickly retreated to Canada, abandoning an attempted invasion on October 1776.
Many American troops went home that winter, reducing the force from 12,000 to just 2,500. Those remaining were sickly and many froze to death. By the spring of 1777 new troops arrived but not enough to properly garrison the forts. On July 5th they evacuated the site when British General John Burgoyne's forces overwhelmed the area. They were pursued to Hubbardton where the British were checked in a bloody battle by the American rear guard. The American main force moved on to face General Burgoyne at Bennington and in the Americans' decisive victory at Saratoga a few months later. British and German forces remained at the Mount until November when they burned and destroyed the site after learning of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga.
Today, Mount Independence is designated a National Historic Landmark and has been called one of the most interesting and important historic sites in Vermont. Explore the several miles of hiking trails that wind past the batteries, blockhouses, hospital, barracks and other archaeological remains of this once-bustling fort complex. Cruise Lake Champlain aboard the privately operated cruise boat, The M/V Carillon, or via private boat to see for yourself the geographic and military significance of Mount Independence. In the visitor center museum, the story of military life atop the Mount is told in exhibits featuring many of the artifacts recovered during recent archaeological investigations.
You can support the exciting efforts at the Mount Independence State Historic Site and participate in volunteer programs by joining the Mount Independence Coalition, the site's friends organization. Contact Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, RD1, Box 3546, Vergennes, VT 05491, or you may e-mail JDumville@dca.state.vt.us
Recreation - Open the doors to Revolutionary War history and archaeology at the new visitor center and museum. The unique architecture dramatically reminds visitors of the important interaction of land and lake-based action during the Revolutionary War. The story of military life atop the Mount is told in exhibits featuring many of the artifacts recovered during recent archaeological investigations. Open daily, late May through mid-October, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Note: Green Mountain National Forest is a few miles west of this historic site offering miles of hiking trails, camping opportunities, fishing locations, winter sporting activities and more.
Climate - Winter daytime temperatures average between 16 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (between -9 and -8 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures average between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 21 Celsius). Much of the state's precipitation is the result of snow, particularly throughout the mountains. The Heart of Vermont Travel Region has diverse precipitation totals ranging from 40 to 44 inches (102 and 112 centimeters) in the center area of the region decreasing to less than 36 inches (91 centimeters) along the state lines of New York and New Hampshire.
The site is located approximately 50 miles south of Burlington, just west of State Route 22A and the Village of Orwell. To reach the site take Route 73 West from Orwell; take the first left hand turn and leave Route 73. This is a paved town road that forks; take the right fork. The road will turn to gravel and go parallel to Lake Champlain. Once again the road will fork; take a sharp left hand turn towards a small marina. The parking lot for the historic site is on the left at the top of the hill.