Sunday, December 6, 2015
The Rome area has been historical since before this country even existed! Just to the east of where the city now stands, Indians in canoes and later the early settlers left the Mohawk River and hiked overland to Wood Creek where they could put their canoe back in the water and paddle on to Oneida Lake. This was referred to as the Great Carrying Place.
This vulnerable spot in the westward trek across New York was in 1756 guarded by three forts built by the British and then shortly after destroyed by them. Finally, Fort Stanwix was constructed in August 1758. This led to a rather peaceful period until the British laid siege to Fort Stanwix in 1777 during the American Revolution.
Fort Bull on the southwest corner of the city was near another historic event that happened later. How many people have sung the song that begins: “I got a mule and her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.”? Before Sal got there, the Erie Canal had to actually be built and right there within site of where Fort Bull had been was where the first shovel-full of dirt had been dug. Digging here on a fairly level stretch gave the canal a fast start as it began to spread across upstate New York. Digging sprad out in both directions towards their goal.
Some history isn’t so old. Many of us remember the Cold War that lasted for decades after WWII. Rome was a part of that too. Griffiths Air Base is on the edge of the city was involved in the aerospace industry during this time period. Closed now, the base is being reutilized for various business enterprises, many heavy in technology.
Where can you learn more about all this history? Well, right in Rome of course. Fort Stanwix has been reconstructed and today is part of National Park Service. You can see exhibits about the history as well as walk through the actual fort.
The Rome Historical Society is just up the street and has many exhibits as well, including an extensive display on Griffiths Air Force base.
The site of Fort Bull and the beginnings of the Erie Canal exist as well, but at this point are inaccessible. There used to be an Erie Canal Village that had recreated a settlement from the time of the beginnings of the canal including a packet boat that sailed some of the original canal. Over time, things have deteriorated and a new owner is attempting to revive this. Fort Bull’s remains are on the site of this attraction as well as the beginning of the canal. Hopefully in the future this will be open to the public once again.
So all in all, there is lots of history in and around Rome for you to explore!