Fort Ontario Plans First Day Hike in Honor of ‘FDR’s Camp’

These two-story buildings were just some of those used to house refugees of the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. The only such camp in the U.S., Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter was open from 1944 to 1946. Pictured is the view of the northeast shoreline of Lake Ontario in winter. Image courtesy of Fort Ontario State Historic Site.

OSWEGO – Friends of Fort Ontario AmeriCorps staffer Corey King leads an hour-long, 1.5-mile First Day Hike at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.

These two-story buildings were just some of those used to house refugees of the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. The only such camp in the U.S., Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter was open from 1944 to 1946. Pictured is the view of the northeast shoreline of Lake Ontario in winter. Image courtesy of Fort Ontario State Historic Site.

The walk will be at an easy pace around the 75-acre Fort Ontario Military Reservation National Register District in Oswego.

The tour begins and ends inside the old stone fort where hot chocolate and coffee will be provided.

“We continue to mark the 75th anniversary of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter with this hike,” said King. “Fort Ontario was the only camp in the U.S. to shelter survivors of the Holocaust during World War II.”

The theme for the 2020 First Day Hike is “My Camp,” based on President Roosevelt’s choice of Fort Ontario in Oswego as the site of the refugee shelter.

In making his decision in 1944, he said, “Fort Ontario is my camp. I know the fort very well. It goes back to before Civil War times and is a very excellent place.”

King added, “The hike will focus on how the site looked when the refugees lived here between 1944 and 1946. We will highlight the locations of the buildings, and events and activities associated with shelter life during that time.”

First Day Hikes is a national program that offers free guided hikes in select state parks in all 50 states.

The program’s mission is to promote a different way of celebrating the new year by going outside, getting some exercise and experiencing local nature and history.

Last year, nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year by collectively hiking more than 133,000 miles on guided hikes throughout the country.

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

For more information about the hike, contact King at [email protected] or call 315-343-4711.

State parks generate $1.9 billion in economic activity each year and support 20,000 jobs.

For more information on any of these recreation areas call 518-474-0456, or visit www.nysparks.com, www.fortontario.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter and Instagram.