Fort Klock Historic Restoration
History of the Fort
Fort Klock was initially constructed in 1750 by Johannes Klock, and in 1973 was designated a National Historic Landmark, a site "of exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States." This 30 acre complex of original colonial farm structures and 19th century schoolhouse and blacksmith shop is open from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., Tuesday through Sunday, from Memorial Day until early October. A small fee is charged. Groups wishing to use the picnic grounds and/or arrange large group tours are asked to schedule their use ahead of time. Fort Klock is an excellent and little-altered architectural type example of a mid-18th century fur trading post and fortified stone house structure that was widely used in the Mohawk Valley by settlers as a place of refuge during the French and Indian War, and later, the War of Independence. It is obvious that the site was well chosen by Johannes-both for its advantages of trading and for defense. The sheltered cove along the riverbank directly below the fort provided safe anchorage for trading batteaux that plied the river. The massive stone walls, nearly two feet thick, rest on a foundation of solid rock. The walls are constructed in two layers filled with rubble, a crude form of insulation against the winter's cold. From the stone floor in the cellar, still bubbles a spring which provided a constant supply of fresh water to the occupants without exposing them to outside danger. The walls are heavily loopholed on every side of the house so that muskets could be fired from the inside.
By 1775 a line of frontier settlements stretched westward along the Mohawk Valley 65 miles from Schenectady to German Flatts. Agriculturally rich, the valley served as a major bread basket for the patriot cause. Its white population of about 15,000 settlers provided a militia force of about 2,500 men. As the danger of invasion from Canada increased, Mohawk Valley Settlers began erecting a series of military posts and also built log stockades around a number of stone dwellings and churches until a total of some 24 strong-posts guarded the valley. The purpose of these fortified private houses was to provide places of safety where neighboring settlers could seek refuge when bands of raiding Indians and Tories swept through the valley.
In 1781, after six years of constant warfare, conditions in the Mohawk Valley were far different: more than 700 homes had been burned, the white population was reduced to 5,000 and its militia to 800 men. Ten thousand people had fled to Canada or out of the valley, hundreds had been killed or taken prisoner. It was the privately fortified structures such as Fort Klock that enabled the 5,000 still living in the Mohawk Valley in 1781 to survive until the end of hostilities.
The largely original house has been restored. Owned by the Fort Klock Historic Restoration, the stone dwelling is open to visitors as an historic house during the summer months.
Other buildings of the restoration include the Fort Klock Country School, a typical one-room "little red schoolhouse" of about 1825, completely restored and furnished as an example of a nearly-vanished American institution, and the Blacksmith Shop, a working industry that serviced the horse and his rider during the mid-19th century with horseshoes and a wide variety of other items made of iron and a Colonial Dutch Barn. Also on the property is a cheese-house, erected about 1840 for the processing of milk into cheese and butter. Converted to caretaker's quarters, it is not open to the public.
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