5516 NY Route 97
Narrowsburg, NY 12764
Open: Last Weekend in June until Labor Day Weekend (repairs will be made on the facility after that until next year) Friday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm (last tour at 4:00pm) and Monday (Labor Day) 10:00am-5:00pm
Fee: Adults $7.00/ Seniors (62+) $5.00/ Children 4-12 $4.00/Veterans with ID and Children under 5 with adults Free. Special rates for school groups and group tours
My review on TripAdvisor:
Fort Delaware is a recreation of an old fort that used to be located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. It is a great place to take children who like to learn from ‘hands on history’ and watch Blacksmiths, Candle makers and farmers wives perform chores and show the way of life at a time before the Revolutionary War.
According to one of the actors I was talking to who was the Blacksmith, this type of fort would not be one people would have lived in full time. It was meant more for when the Native Americans would have attacked the settlement, which he said only happened once and for the most part the settlers and the Native Americans got along well.
As you tour the fort, you will see all the things that were done to support the settlement from raising poultry and cows, candle stick making, the process to weave wool and flax from the raw materials, to weaving and spinning yarn to the process of making clothes and the work of the Blacksmith in making nails, axes and shoeing for horses.
Inside each of the little cabins, it will show the life inside and outside the fort at that time period including living quarters, a small school, workman’s shops and where the members of the fort did their business for trade. You can also walk the outside decks that overlook the river to see how the gunneries worked and where the munitions were held.
The cabins inside the Fort
You can see the entire fort in about an hour and for small children, I think they would find it fascinating. For teenagers, unless they like history, I don’t think they would find it that interesting. Leave yourself about an hour for touring.
The inside living quarters
History of the Museum:
The Fort Delaware Museum is a recreation of the original fort and was built in 1957 by James W. Burbank, the second Sullivan County historian. Burbank was fascinated with the history of the settlement which at the time was called Cushetunk. He was influenced by the Davy Crockett craze at the time in the 50’s and wanted the fort to be a money making venture. He added things like pillories and stocks which were popular at the time. He ran Fort Delaware from 1957 to 1970 when he sold it to the County. The County of Sullivan runs it under the Department of Parks, Recreation and Beautification (History of Fort Delaware-RecordonLine.com)
History of the Fort:
(From the County of Sullivan Parks & Recreation Department)
Much attention is paid to the people who settled the main cities of New York but those who decided to take on the wilderness are often forgotten. At Fort Delaware, the daily life of the wilderness settler is explored through exhibits, crafts, demonstrations and tours. The Fort is a reconstruction of the original frontier settlement of the Cushetunk settlement on the Delaware River, with its stockades and stout log homes, which offered the only protection from hostile Native Americans and later English troops. The Fort consists of a small settlement entirely surrounded by high log walls or stockades. During your visit, you will see the blockhouse (where arms and ammunition were stored), settlers cabins, a spinning, weaving and barn loom area, blacksmith shop, candle-making shed and much more. Period-dressed interpreters demonstrate 18th century life skills, including: cooking, baking bread, animal care, dipping candles and the firing of a 1/2 pound British swivel cannon.
Background of the Fort:
Fort Delaware is a representation of the first white settlement on the Upper Delaware River called Cushetunk. Today’s Fort represents the development of the settlement over a thirty year period. The original settlers were farmers who came primarily from Central Connecticut and were of English descent. They were searching for more land because it had become too crowded in Connecticut to suit colonial farming techniques. A group of Connecticut men formed “The Delaware Company” and became proprietors. In the traditional New England way of land distribution they owned the land and either sold or leased it to farmers moving into this frontier, these proprietors moved their families to the frontier and never sold their land. The Delaware Company purchased land from the Lenape Indians, with the first deed signed in 1754.
The land purchased was a 10 mile long strip along both sides of the Delaware River (situate in modern day New York and Pennsylvania). Procedures for filing land claims were very different in the 18th Century. Also at that time, the States of Pennsylvania and New York were engaged in a boundary dispute , disputes of other colonies really didn’t matter much to those early Connecticut farmers, so they claimed the land for Connecticut! They called their community “Cushetunk”. To those white settlers, it sounded like what the Lenapes were calling the place. KASH-ET-Unk or “a place of red stone hills”.
By 1760, there were thirty cabins, a gristmill and a sawmill. Each spring saw the arrival of more people willing to hack a new life out of the frontier. These people faced hardships they probably never conceived of in Connecticut. Indian attacks, the remote wilderness, rough winters and the possibly that farming this land would not sustain them. They came into the area during the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763). In 1761, a stockade was erected around three homes to serve as protection for the entire settlement against attack. In 1763, the settlement was attacked by a Lenape war party. The lower part of the settlement was destroyed with no known survivors. By the time the war party moved up the settlement, people had gathered into the Fort for protection. The attackers were held off with two casualties among the settlers.
It is this Fort, which is represented today at Fort Delaware even though it was known as “the lower fort” during the 18th Century. Another Fort was situated in the upper part of the settlement. The Fort was never used as a Military post, only for civilian protection. In 1764, a rafting business was introduced into the community and became very successful. It brought cash into the community on a steady basis and Cushetunk experienced a lot of development. In the years between the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution, the fort was abandoned as the threat of Indian attack decreased and people began building what they called “fair houses”. The period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) was a turbulent time for the people of Cushetunk. Generally, the inhabitants were “Tories” (or those who were loyal to the Crown). However, there were also a handful of patriots or Whigs as well.
As time went on neighbors became hated enemies. Many residents of Cushetunk took up arms for the British and Continental armies. Some fought with local militias. In some instances families were torn, brothers fighting on opposing armies. There were many occurences in the settlement of neighbors (who once depended on each other for survival) fighting, looting and even murdering each other. Some of the Patriots from the settlement fought not far from their homes at the Battle of Minisink on July 21, 1779. After the Revolution, the Patriots returned victorious to reclaim their land and many loyalists left to settle in Canada. Today the descendants of these early settlers can still be in the area.
(This information on the history of Fort Delaware and the settlement was taken from the County of Sullivan Department of Parks and Recreation and I give them full credit on the information. Please see the attached website for more information on the Fort).