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  • Port of Oswego
    Review and History

    The Port of Oswego lies on the southern shores of Lake Ontario in New York. The Port of Oswego is the seat of the county with the same name. The Port of Oswego is about 43 nautical miles (75 kilometers or 47 miles) southwest of the Port of Cape Vincent and about 125 nautical miles across Lake Ontario from Canada's Port of Toronto. The 2010 US Census reported that more than 18 thousand people live in the Port of Oswego.

    Port History

    Over 300 years ago, the native Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Six Nations) defeated Samuel de Champlain when he brought his army of Huron Indians to the future Port of Oswego area.

    In 1722, the British built a fortified trading post in the area that they named Fort Oswego. The British constructed the first official fortification at the Port of Oswego in 1755, calling it the Fort of the Six Nations or Fort Ontario. Today, Fort Ontario still stands at this location. During the French and Indian War, the French captured and destroyed Fort Ontario in the Battle of Fort Oswego. The British rebuilt the fort in 1759.

    The British left the fort in 1778 during the American Revolution and reoccupied it in 1782. They did not relinquish Fort Oswego to the new United States until 1796. A small American force was stationed there until it was overwhelmed by the British once again During the War of 1812. For the rest of the 1800s, Fort Ontario was occupied by the US military. Preparing for another war with England, the Americans re-garrisoned the dilapidated fort in 1838. When the US Congress did not fund improvements to the fort, it began a long period of decline and was abandoned in 1901.

    Between 1903 and 1905, the United States decided to expand the fort, and new buildings were added while the older fort areas remained abandoned. By World War II, Fort Ontario contained more than 100 buildings to house and supports a battalion. Fort Ontario was used to house nearly one thousand refugees, victims of the Nazi Holocaust, between 1944 and 1946. In 1946, it was transferred to the State of New York to house veterans and their families. In 1949, the State began to develop Fort Ontario as an historic site. Today, Fort Ontario has been refurbished to its 1840 condition, and it is being restored to its 1870 appearance.

    The Port of Oswego was incorporated as a village in 1828 and as a city in 1848. The next year, the Oswego Canal, part of the Erie Canal, started operating. The Port of Oswego was a major hub for several railroads for some time. Since the War of 1812, the Port of Oswego has been an important port of call. Before the 20th Century, the Port of Oswego was known as a ship-building port, and many schooners and sailing ships populated the harbor. In the latter 1800s, the Port of Oswego was the transport point for shipments of salt from Syracuse on their way to Lake Erie.

    When the American West was opened, schooners carrying wheat and corn for the mills arrived in the Port of Oswego. During the Port of Oswego's heyday, timber was also an important cargo, and for a short time, the Port of Oswego was the United States' busiest timber port. Today, as many as 120 vessels call each year at the Port of Oswego carrying more than one million tons of cargo including fertilizer, wheat, corn, soybeans, salt, windmill and nuclear power components, aluminum, and petroleum products.

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