Visiting Fort Klock, A 1750's Restored Fortified Homestead

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

 Sometimes some of the best treasures are found by accident and that can certainly be said about the subject of today's post.  A couple Sunday's ago, John and I set out for a drive headed to Fort Plain, NY to finally check out Fort Plain Antiques.  Quite a trip back in time and two floors of great antiques and salvage, we finished our exploration early and headed back east for a little more adventure.  Normally I'm the one directing the stops and detours but on this trip, John did a quick application to the brake pedal and turned into this gem known as Fort Klock Restoration.  Located on Route 5 in St. Johnsville, NY, ironically not far from our frequent destination - Stone Arabia (Amish country), and just a short drive from my planned dinner stop, Beardslee Castle.  Exploring Fort Klock was the perfect appetite-inducing afternoon excursion.
 According to their website - "Built in 1750 by Johannes Klock, a German Palatine who came to the area with the great Palatine migration, Fort Klock is a fortified home built from locally mined limestone and equipped with defensive musket loopholes in the outer walls to protect his family from two 18th century conflicts". 
Our tour guide was Tyler.....don't let his age fool you....he's 11.  He was a knowledgeable and sometimes comedic guide who knew how to add just the right amount of humor to his otherwise educational and fact-based story telling.  



Speaking of loopholes (I'd never heard that term, had you?), here's Tyler holding one of the wooden plugs and the 'loophole' it came out of. (photos below)


The stone walls are over two feet thick, with loopholes on every side for defense.  The fort was utilized during both the French and Indian War and the American war for independence.  It was not just for the Klock's safety, but also a place of refuge for family and neighbors.
Notice the 'loophole'?


 The tour also included the 1825 school house (restored and furnished), a 1790 Dutch Barn that was moved and resembled to the site in 1989, and a Blacksmith Shop.





The home remained in the Klock family through the 1950's.  After Lipe Klock passed away in the 1930's, the family moved to town.  Abandoned, it fell into disrepair.  In 1953, Willis "Skip" Barshied Jr. and his newly organized Tryon County Muzzleloaders (12 young men interested in collecting and shooting antique guns) were looking for a 'home base' to become their meeting place.  They found the property run down and in dire need of repair.  Skip arranged to meet with the current owner, Alexander Don, a descendant of Johannes Klock.  Alexander had dreamed of restoring the old fort for future generations.  He joined the group of muzzle loaders and once convinced they were sincere in their desire to restore the fort, he gave them a long-term lease.  The rent was $1.00 per year for 20 years with the option to renew for an additional 20 years.  In 1957 when Alexander Don passed away, his wife, Mabel, deeded the property to the muzzle loaders.  A long restoration process began and in 1961 the farmstead opened to the public for tours.  In 1973 the name of the organization was changed to the Fort Klock Historic Restoration and the property was designated a National Historic Landmark.  The Fort Klock Historic Restoration primarily relies on member volunteers, donations, fundraising events and gift shop sales.  They are actively accepting membership applications.



Fort Klok is open from May through mid-October.  Besides tours, the fort also hosts special events throughout the summer.  This weekend (September 29 and 30th) is their Interrupted Harvest, a 1778 War Event- Devasting Raids have begun and refugees, both Patriot and Loyalists, are impacting Valley Communities.  Come see re-enactments, living history demonstrations and meet authors Gavin Watt and Jennifer DeBruin and attend their presentations in the fort's Dutch barn.  The fort is open from 9-5.  Schedule of events is at the end of this post.
To read Don Bittner's blog post in the Times Union with lots of old, historical photos about Fort Klock: https://blog.timesunion.com/rittner/make-time-for-fort-klock/6189/

Whether you're a serious history buff or are just interested in local history, Fort Klock is a definite must-see for young and old alike.  Admission was a very reasonable $5 per person.  Our guided tour lasted about 60 minutes.  We were lucky to have an archaeology group from Oneonta on our tour.  Their members added a ton of historical tidbits to Tyler's narration.  While you're in the area, consider a stop at Fort Plain Antiques.
By the end of the day, you will have worked up quite an appetite.  I recommend you fill your belly at the magical Beardslee Castle.  Also located just down the road on Route 5 (set up and off Rt 5 on Old State Road), Beardslee is not like any dinner venue in your own hometown.  The site of weddings and mystery dinner theaters, it's also a great place for a fancy dinner in the main floor dining area or a more casual meal downstairs in the Dungeon Bar & Grill.  For more information, you can read about Beardslee Castle in my very first blog post...Beardslee Castle (click on link).

Thank you for reading today's post and thank you to Tyler (and his mom and golf cart driver extraordinaire) for a wonderful tour.  Montgomery County has so much to offer.  Check out my blog Directory for more rural beauty including my favorite Amish communities. For more information on Fort Klock Historic Restoration: http://www.fortklockrestoration.org/home.html and to follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FortKlock/

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