DESCRIPTION: For more than 300 years, the former Fort Niagara has been used for military purposes based on its strategic location on both Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. The earliest known use was by the French, as early as 1687, and then by the British as a colonial military outpost. The United States first took possession of the former Fort Niagara in 1796, under the Jay Treaty of 1794, but would lose the property to the British in 1813. The U.S. re-occupied the fort in 1815, but abandoned it in 1826 until it was again re-occupied by the U.S in 1828. The War Department took possession of a portion of the property in 1840, and upgrades were made including the installation of heavy gun emplacements for coastal defense. Construction and expansions at the former Fort Niagara continued from 1865 to 1912 and, in 1927, the Old Fort Niagara Association was formed to restore the old fort and maintain the facility as a museum. From the early 1900s to 1946, the fort served as an officer training camp, reception center for draftees, and a prisoner of war camp. The former Fort Niagara was declared excess in 1946 and a portion became veteran housing. In 1949, a portion of the property was conveyed to the Niagara Frontier Park Commission. The portion that contained the veteran housing was leased to the Department of the Army between 1949 and 1953. The former Fort Niagara was closed in 1963, and the Department of the Army’s lease was terminated in 1964. The entire property was then retained by the State of New York.
The site is located within the town limits of Porter, Niagara County, New York (Congressional District NY-27), the land is publicly owned, and is operated as Fort Niagara State Park.
A military munitions response program (MMRP) site inspection report was issued in 2009, which recommended further investigation.
AUTHORIZATION: The site inspection was conducted under the Defense Environmental Restoration – Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Program.
STATUS (SEPTEMBER 2017): The Fort Niagara Offshore Dump Site is underwater, just adjacent to the old historic wall within Old Fort Niagara. The area was used from 1900 to 1934 for munitions disposal (e.g., potentially mortars, large caliber munitions, and small arms ammunition). During field activities for the 2009 Site Inspection (SI) Report, neither munitions debris (MD) nor munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) were found. The SI report indicates that between 1987 and 1988, MD was found during surveys conducted to remove munitions. In total, over 100 mostly inert munitions items were found, including intact practice mortar projectiles, mortar fuzes, and grenade dischargers. Based on the recorded historical use, historical findings of MD, and the potential for MEC, the 2009 SI Report recommends that the Fort Niagara Offshore Dump Site project area warrants further investigation.
Further remedial investigation will be conducted under the FUDS Program, subject to the availability of funds.
Estimated Federal Cost (future): MMRP Remedial Investigation $1,379,800
Gregory J. Goepfert,
New York District Project Manager 917-790-8235