“Last Post” Lantern Tours of Fort Ontario to begin July 4th

AmeriCorps staffer Victoria Marks will lead themed lantern tours of Fort Ontario State Historic Site on Wednesday nights from July 4th to August 30th, 2018. The “Last Post” Lantern Tours will feature descriptions of the history, myths, and legends of who, how, why, and where hundreds of officers, soldiers, civilians, and Native American died at Fort Ontario since 1755.

Tours will begin inside the old stone fort at 9:00 PM in July, and 8:45 PM in August; they will wind their way around the park and include the post cemetery. Footwear and clothing appropriate for slopes, stairs, and invigorating lakeside breezes are recommended.

Tickets cost $15 and must be purchased in advance by calling (315) 343-4711, or stopping in the Museum Shop during public hours. Proceeds will support programming sponsored by the not-for-profit Friends of Fort Ontario, Inc.

Fort Ontario is the location of three colonial British frontier fortifications and a standing fort built by the United States from 1839 to 1844. The fort was also the site of three French and Indian War and two War 1812 battles, a New York National Guard training camp between world wars, and it was an active regular U.S. Army post until April 3, 1946. During World War II Fort Ontario served as the only refugee camp in the United States for victims of the Holocaust, and as a public veterans housing project during the post-war housing emergency. The former Fort Ontario Military Reservation is now a state historic site, a City of Oswego owned recreation area with a holocaust refugee shelter museum, the site of a private medical office and transportation activities, and since 1961 a U.S. Army Reserve Training Center.

In addition to learning about the macabre history of Fort Ontario, guided lantern tours will provide an opportunity to experience the old fort and post cemetery after dark. Purported to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States, and the subject of a 2012 episode of Ghost Hunters on the SyFy Channel, participants may catch a glimpse of one of Fort Ontario legendary ghosts or experience other paranormal activity. Ghost sightings date back to the 19th century and include a red coated figure of Private George Fykes who died at the fort in 1782, who is said to walk the ramparts and grounds at night with a red lantern. Among other phenomenon, people have reported hearing music inexplicably playing, seen a light and shadowy figure in a window over a door, and observed a cold and dark, light absorbing apparition moving around the rooms of officer’s quarters.

For more information or to make reservations for the guided lantern tours contact Victoria Marks at 315-343-4711, or 14marksv@gmail.com.  For information on the fort’s hours of operation contact Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov, or visit historicfortontario or nysparks.com. Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East 4th Street in the City of Oswego, NY.