From the settlements of the Mohawks to the arrival of the Palatine Germans whose hard work made the area into a prosperous farming community in the 1700’s to the establishment of the Fort on the eve of the Revolution, Fort Plain has served as a central strong point in the middle Mohawk Valley. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was largely responsible for the expansion and present day location of the village. While the village had its share of manufacturing (The Shipman Spring and Axle Works on Willet Street supplied manufacturers of Conestoga wagons), it also served as a major regional depot for area farmers shipping their products to cities east and west.
The planned Erie Canal town has several intersections from which to view the path of the old Erie Canal. The Canal ran west behind the line of commercial buildings on the north side of Canal Street. While at the corner of Canal Street and Main Street one is surrounded by Italianate buildings built with Canal trade wealth; several retain their upper-story cargo doors and hoist beams. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort Plain boasts of a Historic District which includes fine architectural examples from the Federal period through the many varieties of Victorian architecture.
START YOUR TRIP at the Mohawk Valley Villages visitor center in Diefendorf Hall, 47 Main Street, Fort Plain. The volunteer-staffed site offers seasonal restroom facilities, free WiFi, local travel, lodging and dining information. Continue your visit at the Fort Plain Museum and Historical Park to explore the region’s importance in our War of Independence. The Fort Plain Free Library houses an exhibit on the historic Clinton Liberal Institute. For those who enjoy the outdoors, the Fort Plain Cemetery is a fine example of a Mount Auburn-style (Cambrige, MA) rural garden cemetery. Worth a visit too is Lock 15. Ask to see the DC generator still in use. And a well-kept secret is that right next door is NY State Canal Park, Lock 15.