The Fort Ligonier Museum is one of the fascinating museums in PA to explore and learn of notable history from the 1700s. The site reconstruction is very detailed and I found all the artefacts very intriguing.
Where is the Fort Ligonier Museum?
Fort Ligonier is easy to find and visible from the main highway running through the small town of Ligonier PA.
The address of Fort Ligonier is 200 South Market Street, Ligonier, PA 15658.
The fort was built alongside the Loyalhanna Creek.
The site has been fully restored to recreate a notable replica fort which played an intricate part in the French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years War.
Fort Ligonier History
In the mid-1700s a major land grab was under way in the North Americas primarily between France and the British. Spain was also active in the southern parts such as Florida and Central America.
As demonstrated by the battle at Fort Necessity things were coming to a head and war seemed almost unavoidable.
In 1758, British politician William Pitt (after whom Pittsburgh was eventually named) assigned Scottish brigadier John Forbes to secure key areas across Pennsylvania and with an aim of ultimately seizing the French stronghold of Fort Duquesne (current day Pittsburgh).
As part of his strategy Forbes set up a key supply road (known as Forbes Road) with depots and messenger posts along the way. Fort Ligonier was to be the supply fort closest to the target of Fort Duquesne.
Construction of Fort Ligonier PA began on 3rd September 1758.
The fort was named after British commander Field Marshal John Ligonier even though Ligonier never actually served in America.
The Fort at Ligonier was subject to a number of failed attacks from French and native Indian troops.
Acting as a key supply depot the fort was instrumental in the eventual capture of Fort Duquesne. The site of Duquesne was not truly captured, the French burnt it down as they knew they were about to be overrun in defeat. This then led to the British building a new fort which was called Fort Pitt close to the area.
At its height Fort Ligonier held up to 6,000 troops. Following the end of the Seven Year War the importance of Fort Ligonier declined. However it played a role in the Pontiac War of 1763 when it was a supply base for Bouquet leading up to the significant victory over the native Indians at nearby Bushy Run.
The Fort at Ligonier was eventually decommissioned on 20th March 1766.
The Fort Ligonier Museum Is As Rich As Any Of The Museums In PA For History And Displays
The Fort Ligonier Museum has a wealth of artefacts from the 1700s plus some wonderful historic features.
At the time of my visit (June 2014) the entrance fee was $10 and a handy guide book was a further $2. This is fairly reflective of prices I’ve found for historic museums in PA.
For me one of the key highlights on display are the actual hand written notes from George Washington himself which are titled as “Remarks”. These recount his numerous military exploits around this time including an incident close to Ligonier where he nearly died in an incident of friendly fire.
The museum has numerous displays, pictures and examples of clothing, tools and ammunition of the time. Displays include portraits of key figures at that time, a history of the Fort, the French and Indian War, historical time-line of events and theatres of war around the world from the Seven Year War.
The reconstructed Fort Ligonier
The reconstructed fort is a very impressive display. The site is two fortifications deep and has prime examples of carriages, artillery, defences and stores.
There are a number of reconstructed huts which include supply stores, an underground magazine store (to protect it from a direct hit which otherwise would have blown up the whole fort).
Fort Ligonier PA also features examples of soldiers’ barracks, a hospital, officers mess.
There is also what is deemed as Forbes’ Hut. This is where it is believed he took up residence whilst in the fort. It is well known that Forbes’ was seriously ill whilst he was here, although it did not stop him from his military leadership. Ultimately his illness led to his death in March 1759. The building labelled as his hut has a life size model of Forbes laid on a bed resting his poorly leg.
I found the overall Fort Ligonier Museum and Fort experience to be a highly valuable one. I spent around 2 hours on my visit and was always fascinated by the displays and information boards. Even the shop had items of interest for anyone with a varied interest in 1700s America.
Have you ever been to Fort Ligonier? Or have you seen any of the other historic museums in PA? If so, what were the highlights for you? Please share you experience in the comments section below.