First Day Hike at Fort Ontario will Focus on World War I

“A Rough Bunch.” Soldiers with the dog, "Kaiser," next to the hospital ward at Fort Ontario, around 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.
“A Rough Bunch.” Soldiers with the dog, "Kaiser," next to the hospital ward at Fort Ontario, around 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.

OSWEGO – Post historian Corey King will lead a unique World War I commemorative First Day Hike around the 75-acre Fort Ontario Military Reservation National Register District at 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Tuesday, Jan. 1.

The hike pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Nov. 11, 1918, signing of the armistice which brought World War I to a close.

“A Hard Crowd to Beat.” Nurses stand in front of a nurses’ quarters at Fort Ontario in 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.
“A Hard Crowd to Beat.” Nurses stand in front of a nurses’ quarters at Fort Ontario in 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.

First Day hikers will register and assemble inside the old stone fort and march about one mile at a moderate pace around the buildings, grounds and foundations of the old World War I army base at Fort Ontario.

Participants are encouraged to bring their tablets, I-pads and Smart Phones to download original World War I photographs from the Friends of Fort Ontario Facebook page.

King will stop and discuss the photographs while standing on the approximate location they were taken in 1917-19.

The tour is free and open to the public.

King is an AmeriCorps staffer serving Friends of Fort Ontario.

“During World War I, Fort Ontario was converted from an infantry battalion post with a 12-bed hospital to U.S. Army General Hospital No. 5 containing 1,073 beds,” said King.

General Hospital No. 5 was used to treat sick and wounded soldiers from stateside army training camps as well as the fighting in Europe.

“A Rough Bunch.” Soldiers with the dog, "Kaiser," next to the hospital ward at Fort Ontario, around 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.
“A Rough Bunch.” Soldiers with the dog, “Kaiser,” next to the hospital ward at Fort Ontario, around 1917. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.

Medical staff, field hospital units and ambulance companies were also trained at the fort and deployed overseas during the war.

First Day Hikes are a nationwide National Park Service initiative in cooperation with New York State Parks to encourage people to begin the New Year by reconnecting with the outdoors.

Hikers are advised to dress appropriately for brisk wind and weather conditions off Lake Ontario.

Leashed dogs are welcome.

Refreshments will be provided before and after the tour.

“Mac.” A soldier on a rifle gallery embrasure at Fort Ontario during World War I. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.
“Mac.” A soldier on a rifle gallery embrasure at Fort Ontario during World War I. Army Nurse Olive Perry Collection.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by more than 60 million people annually.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the city of Oswego.

In case of bad weather and possible cancellation, check the Friends of Fort Ontario Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FortOntario for updates.

Contact King for more information at 315-343-4711 or by email [email protected]

For more Oswego County history, go to http://visitoswegocounty.com/historical-info/.