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The Village of Fort Edward is located on the East bank of the Hudson River, approximately fifty miles north of Albany, NY. The place receives its name from the French and Indian War fortification that was erected in 1755, named by William Johnson of Johnstown, New York. He named it for Edward Augustus, a grandson of King George II and the brother of King GeorgeIII. He was formally known as the Duke of York and Albany. Prince Edward Island is also named for him. He never became king of England.
The first inhabitants of this place were of course native Americans, however, by the time of the historic period Native Americans only used this immediate area as a hunting ground and an area for portage between the Hudson River and Lake Champlainon their trips north and south. The Hudson River at this point north is no longer a navigable waterway because of waterfalls and rapids. Historically travelers through this area had two options of travel. Initially they would leave the Hudson at Fort Edward and begin to 'carry' their canoes overland to Lake George. Then at Lake George, one could canoe up the lake and eventually connect to Lake Champlain. The other route sometimes involved an overland carry. This utilized the creek know as Little Wood, although it has also been known as Bond creek and Fort Edward creek. The present Champlain Barge Canal has bisected this creek as a source of its water supply. Little Wood creek would eventually connect to Halfway Brook and other water courses in the town of Fort Ann.
It is interesting that the summit level of the Champlain Barge Canal is reached in Fort Edward. Water provided by the Glens Falls feeder canal flows into the summit level above Lock 8 in the Town of Fort Edward. So from this point water can flow north into Lake Champlain or south into the Hudson River. We are approximately 144 ft. above sea level at this point. So, the upper part of the Champlain Valley actually begins just to the north of the village of Fort Edward. Of the present locks on the Champlain Barge Canal, Lock 7 is located in the village (partially) and Lock 6 and Lock 8 are located in the town of Fort Edward.
The first settler to the area known today as the Village of Fort Edward was John Henry Lydius, often called the "Dutchman" from Albany. Lydius was referred to as a fur trader. His house was illustrated by a sketch on a map prepared by a Frenchman by the name of Anger in 1732.
Fort Edward is the most northerly point on the Hudson River for the early Dutch. After the French and Indian War began our early period of settlement, many of the troops who fought in the conflict from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts had seen the potential in this area and resettled here.
The Argyle Patent was the first major patent of the area for the Town of Fort Edward that encompassed the portion of the village. This extended from north line of the Stewarts Shops property north to the town line. The other patent which was smaller and established nearly at the same time was the Bayard Patent, which extended from Stewarts south to the village line. Both were created about 1764.
The Town of Fort Edward was set off from the Town of Argyle in 1818. The Village of Fort Edward was created in 1849, principally as a reaction to the railroad and its affect on the lives and neighborhoods of the people who lived in this small industrial hamlet.
Railroad crossings were always an issue for the village, along with the amenities that we take for granted today, such as a public water supply and fire protection. During the 1850's the village focused its attention to fire protection. Finally, in 1857, the board of trustees decided to build an Engine house and to name members for a fire company. Fire apparatus was purchased and by 1860 the fire company was referred to as Relief Hose Number One. The original Engine House would also become the village hall. This location housed fire apparatus and a truck until the 1960's. Also, for many years the village offices were conducted on the second floor of this building, until the 1960's, when the old bay for the fire truck was converted into a more modern office with street accessibility. For the village clerk to gain access to the old village Hall you had to enter thru a shared staircase in the Crane Block. Ironically the village had inherited the Crane Block from the estate of the Crane sisters. However, they did not want to remove the property from the tax rolls and it was sold, but not before they made an easement on the stairway for the village office access.
Industry & Manufacturing
During the period before the Village was established, many manufacturing sites were being developed. In 1845, a group of men got together to establish a mill site on what is today the site of Irving Tissue.
They had secured the water rights of the Old Fort Edward Feeder Canal and the use of the Fort Edward Dam. Prior to that time, water was used from the Jane McCrea reservoir which passed down the hill under McCrea Street and thru the mill yard. However, with increasing demand for the water supply for private homes and the Collegiate Institute, these sources of water power dried up leaving only the diverted water from behind the dam to power these mills. The availability of cheap water transportation afforded by the Fort Edward Feeder Canal gave a boost to this early mill site. Iron foundry's and a blast furnace located there, potteries, paper mills along with saw and grist mills flourished in this area.
Rail transportation to this site would not be available until after 1869, when the Glens Falls railroad was built.
In the area of paper making, Fort Edward has been at the forefront, beginning in the early part of the 19th century. In 1845 the Howland brothers started paper making in Fort Edward. However, the Howland brothers would eventually establish large paper manufacturing in nearby Sandy Hill, now called Hudson Falls.
Hodgeman and Palser was one of the first firms manufacturing paper. Frederick Hodgeman was the first mayor or president of the Village of Fort Edward in 1849. His firm was very successful when he brought in a partner from England by the name of Palser. In the early days paper was made from rags, but as the 19th century progressed lumber played an important role and new technology found the paper industry turning to pulp from the Adirondacks so the saw mills were ultimately replaced by pulp mills.
George Underwood of Fort Edward became a key player in the development of the local paper making industry. He had substantial property holdings in the Adirondacks. Towards the end of the 19th century he, along with several other prominent Glens Falls industrialists organized the Glens Falls Paper Mills. Later George Underwood would become a founder of International Paper, which would dominate paper making for the first half of the 20th century. IP as it was locally called, became the regions local employer. The Fort Edward Plant would eventually close to be sold off to Marinette Paper Company, which was subsequently bought out by Scott Paper Company.
In the 1980's Scott was absorbed by Kimberly Clark, then after a few years, part of its paper division was sold off to Irving Tissue (a Canadian company), which continues to produce some paper items originally created by Scott Tissue in their mill here today.
Paul McCarty, Village Historian
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Village of Fort Edward
118 Broadway• P.O. Box 345 • Fort Edward, NY12828
Office (518) 747-4023 • Fax (518) 747-0476