“We’re on the Lake Champlain shoreline in Alburgh,” Mike Hoey said. “This location wasn’t always part of Vermont.”

“Yes, Mike, a really complex story (and) sometimes humorous in parts,” Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins said. “It deals with the fort over our shoulder — or more specifically, where that fort is located — and also where we are. We’re on the edge of the causeway leading onto the Rouses Point Bridge; Rouses Point, New York.

“There was the French and Indian War, the Seven Years War, which the British won, ultimately taking over all this area. So, they had to create a boundary at the end of that war where they said, ‘OK, where’s the British province of Quebec versus New York and New England?’. The treaty that ended that war said the 45th parallel is going to be the northern border of New York; remember, there was no Vermont at the time.

“A group of surveyors surveyed what they thought was the 45th parallel. Then, we fought this American Revolution deal; it became an international border and the U.S. government said ‘you know what? We need to fortify it’.”

“And it was fortified twice, with one of those fortifications proving a tad bit more successful, you could say, than the other,” Hoey said.

“Yes! So, 1814, the British came down Lake Champlain, the Battle of Plattsburgh was fought and they were defeated by the American forces, who said ‘we need to put a fort up here’,” Perkins added. “And this point of land over our shoulder — I mean, you can see a fort; this is not the one I’m referring to right now — but ‘we’re going to put a fort right there’. Makes sense, because that’s Canada! We’re looking at Canada right there.

“And so the fortification never really had a name, but it came to be known as Fort Blunder. They started building it in 1816 (but) quickly ended up stopping building because this border became disputed. They weren’t taking into account the curvature of the Earth when drawing this really long line (in the 1770s). (Surveying) became a little more sophisticated by the early 19th century, and when taking that into account, the border’s kind of where we’re standing right now. We would have been on the international border — which puts this new American fort in Canada.”

“Hence, Fort Blunder,” Hoey said.

“We actually had to have (the Webster-Ashburton Treaty) with England which determined what this border was going to be,” Perkins continued. “Part of those negotiations were, ‘OK, we’ll give you a little bit more of Maine if you give us the land that that fort’s on’. And so in 1842, the U.S. goes ahead and builds the fort we see now, Fort Montgomery, which was a state-of-the-art border protection facility. It could take hundreds of soldiers. At max, maybe a hundred (were ever stationed there at one time), so it was garrisoned (but) never fired a shot (in anger). The U.S. government kept it up until 1926, and then they sold it at public auction and has been in private hands ever since.”

“I even remember, long before I moved to this area, hearing that Fort Montgomery — whatever that was; I didn’t know at the time — was (listed for sale) on eBay,” Hoey said. “So, I wanted to go check it out, and I remember seeing it there.”

“Yes, they tried to sell it on eBay (in 2006 and 2009),” Perkins noted. “It didn’t work, (but) it was just purchased (in September), so it does have new owners! They’ve got grand plans for it.”