PLATTSBURGH — Folks willing to climb 156 stairs can get an almost eagle’s eye view of the City of Plattsburgh today, Saturday and Sunday, as the Macdonough Monument is open for self-guided tours.
The event is one of many Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration offerings through Sunday.
The obelisk was built by the U.S. government in the 1920s in honor of Commodore Thomas Macdonough, who led American forces to victory over the British on Lake Champlain in September 1814.
It was a sight to see during its construction.
“The tower is about one hundred fifty feet high but looks much higher because it is so slender,” says a story published Sept. 25, 1923, in the Plattsburgh Sentinel. “... The nonchalant manner in which three or four surefooted, level headed workmen get around and do their task (so high off the ground) is attracting a great deal of attention.”
Recently, Clinton County Historical Association volunteer Roger Black discovered a glass negative of an image of the monument’s construction in the George Brewer Collection. A print of that wintertime photo is hung in the room at the bottom of the monument, along with a copy of the news story from 1923.
Jim Bailey, who has put on tours for two decades, said it’s the first picture he’s ever seen of the construction. He does note an inaccuracy in the news article, though.
It says visitors would “be able to stand inside the big eagle on top and through a trap door take in at one sweeping glance the whole theatre of the battle that decided for all time the question of American freedom.”
Certainly, America remains free, but the eagle is just an adornment. The windows are at the top of the stairs; a ladder not accessible to visitors leads to a trap door about 15 feet higher that gives way to a small, dark space.
Black said he also discovered two negatives with images of the huge celebration that took place when the monument was dedicated.
See many of the pictures from the Glass Negatives Portrait Project at: http://ccha.printroom.com/.
Here’s some of the Battle of Plattsburgh schedule (unless otherwise noted, all events are in Plattsburgh):
11 a.m.: Crab Island Memorial on the island; U.S. Navy Band, Clinton Community College main lobby; U.S. Navy Band Woodwind Trio, Lake Forest Senior Living Community.
2 p.m.: U.S. Navy Band Woodwind Trio, Meadowbrook Healthcare, Prospect Avenue.
4 to 8 p.m.: Macdonough Monument, City Hall Place. Open for self- guided tours.
4 to 7 p.m.: Cannonball Run preregistration, Trinity Park. Race is Saturday.
4 p.m.: Israel Green Tavern, vintage dining and entertainment, 18 Trinity Place.
4:30 p.m.: Roy Hurd, concert, Israel Green Tavern.
5 p.m.: Eliza Mooers Historic District Walking Tour, with Melissa Bistor-Cross, Macdonough Monument.
6 p.m.: Gratto Family Jugglers & Stilt Walkers, Trinity Park area.
6:30 p.m.: Charlie Stone and Split Rock concert, Israel Green Tavern.
7:30 p.m.: Professor Louie and the Crowmatix concert, City Hall steps.
8:30 p.m.: U.S. Navy Band Northeast, City Hall steps.
9 p.m.: The Bluenote Dixie Band, Israel Green Tavern.
9:30 p.m.: Rocket’s Red Glare Fireworks, Macdonough Monument.
8:10 a.m.: Cannonball Run registration, Old Base Oval, races at 9 a.m. 5 and 10K fun runs, $35, 1-mile Fun Run/Walk
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Farmer’s Market, Durkee Street.
10 to 11 a.m.: 1814 Battle Re-enactment, Spellman Road, Beekmantown, behind the Town Hall.
10 to 10:30 a.m.: Saratoga replica demonstration, Champlain Monument, Cumberland Avenue.
10 a.m. to noon: Fife-and-drum and pipe-and-drum units perform, Trinity Park and downtown area; Fun With Boats, build and sail your own small ship, 30 City Hall Place.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Boy Scout Battle of Plattsburgh Stamp Cancellation, Trinity Park; cachet until 4 p.m.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Boy Scout Historic Trail, starts at Trinity Park; Macdonough Monument, City Hall Place. Open for self- guided tours.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Kent-Delord House Museum open for tours.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Alice T. Miner Collection, Chazy 1814 Military Encampment on Kent-Delord House museum grounds, 17 Cumberland Ave.; Battle Bots! Interactive activities for children and adults, Trinity Park; 1814 Craft Demonstrations, guides from Montreal’s Chateau Ramezay Museum, City Hall steps; and, on the Old Base Museum Campus, Battle of Plattsburgh Association, War of 1812 Museum, 31 Washington Road; Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, 12 Museum Way; and Clinton County Historical Association Museum, 98 Ohio Ave.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Confiance anchor exhibit, talk by Bill Van Stockum, City Hall, second floor; Macdonough Monument self-guided tours (closed during parade); Kids’ Games, Trinity Park; Historic Trinity Episcopal Church, Trinity Place, open for self-guided tours.
10 to 10:30 a.m.: U.S. Navy Band Northeast concert at CVPH Medical Center, 75 Beekman St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Historic First Presbyterian Church, self-guided tours, 34 Brinkerhoff Street.
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Israel Green Tavern, vintage dining and entertainment. (closed 1:30 to 4 p.m.),18 Trinity Place.
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Battle of Plattsburgh Challenge Cup, bateau race, Champlain Monument, Cumberland Avenue.
11 a.m. to noon: The Rogues trio, Israel Green Tavern; 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Dear Lucy, vocalist.
11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Parade Warm-up Variety Show by the Gratto Family Jugglers, City Hall steps area.
12:15 p.m.: Kids’ Muster, immediately followed by Kids’ Parade, Trinity Park.
1 p.m.: Parade starts at Elks’ Club on Cumberland Ave, to City Hall steps, ends at Durkee St. Immediately followed by Beat Retreat with massed bands, City Hall steps area. Roducky Derby follows at the Macdonough Monument and then the Rotary Bed Race, City Hall Place.
3 p.m.: Fashion Show, Kent-Delord House Barn, 17 Cumberland Ave.
4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: The Greenbeans concert, Israel Green Tavern.
5 to 6 p.m.: Eliza Mooers Historic District Walking Tour, Macdonough Monument.
7:30 to 9:30 p.m.: Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band of Cobourg, Ontario, Stafford Middle School auditorium, 15 Broad St.
8 to 11 p.m.: Macomb Ball, English Country Dancing led by dance masters Gilchrist and Kokernot, with live period music by MGRP String Trio, Elk’s Club, 56 Cumberland Ave.
8 to 11 p.m.: Too Tall String Band concert, Israel Green Tavern.
See the whole schedule at: http://www.champlain1812.com/calendar.html.