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Plattsburgh was founded in1788 and named for its first settler, Zaphania Platt. It was incorporated as a village in1825 and was granted its city charter in1902. Plattsburgh's fame is linked historically to the tide-turning Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812 (see below). But its military past dates to the Revolutionary War, when a small fleet of American vessels under the command of Benedict Arnold held off superior British forces during the decisive Battle of Valcour.

Plattsburgh's scenic location just north of the Adirondacks and on Lake Champlain attracted numerous dignitaries and achieved wide recognition as a first class resort and commercial and industrial area. Many presidents made Plattsburgh a stopping place, including President McKinley, who maintained a summer residence in the area, and Teddy Roosevelt, who visited American troops at Plattsburgh Barracks. Baseball immortal Babe Ruth vacationed here in the off season. The area's military influence continued prior to and during World War II with the formation of Citizens Training Camps, predecessor of ROTC programs, and the opening of a major Air Force base. National defense, a major player in the local economy, eventually took a lesser role in Plattsburgh's economic picture as health care and education took hold in the area. Manufacturing in Plattsburgh in the past has seen sewing machines and automobiles. Currently, in addition to tourism, rail car production, pharmaceuticals, plastics and composites, fiber optics, and paper products manufacturing spearhead the local economy.

Battle of Plattsburgh

Throughout the war of 1812, British forces targeted Lake Champlain as an invasion route. United States Navy Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough was able to confine them in the Richelieu River of Quebec throughout the summer of 1813. American shipbuilders spent the following winter and summer in Vergennes, Vermont building a United States naval war fleet.

Macdonough's fleet was battle-ready none to soon as American General Alexander Macomb faced reinforced British forces gathering for a land invasion in Plattsburgh. On the morning of September 11, 1814, British Captain George Downe brought his warship around Cumberland Head to aid in the invasion and found Macdonough's ships already anchored upwind in the bay. The ensuing battle took place in close quarters, giving Macdonough's cannonade-equipped vessels an advantage over the British ships' heavier guns. The battle lasted two and one half hours and cost the lives of 143 men who were buried together on nearby Crab Island. Its decisive outcome effectively ended the war.

The links below more fully describe the Battle of Plattsburgh and its significance in the history of the United States. The links also relate plans now under way to preserve an important historical site on PARC property adjacent to Lake Champlain and to pursue a strategy to create a major tourist destination on the scale of Fort Ticonderoga and Colonial Williamsburg.

See how the Battle of Plattsburgh was the turning point in the War of 1812

Teddy Roosevelt visits Plattsburgh


Remnants of a batteau from the Battle of Plattsburgh recovered in the summer of 2000 from Plattsburgh Bay on Lake Champlain.
Margaret Street in downtown Plattsburgh at the turn of the 20th Century.
Clinton County Historical Association website
Battle of Plattsburgh Association website
The Battle of Plattsburgh Bay was pivotal to the outcome of the War of 1812 (photo provided courtesy of James P.Millard, author of the Battle of Plattsburgh at the web address at the right.)
Champlain Valley Transportation Musem