Dusten Rader/Express staff
Organizers of Fort Plain Museum’s third annual American Revolution Mohawk Valley Conference pose Friday during an opening reception held at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. From left, Fort Plain Museum board of trustees Norman Bollen, Brian Mack, and Wayne Lenig.
By DUSTEN RADER
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN — Hundreds of enthusiasts gathered Friday at Fulton-Montgomery Community College to celebrate the opening of a conference that explores the history of the Mohawk Valley.
The third annual American Revolution Mohawk Valley Conference began Thursday. The four-day conference, hosted by Fort Plain Museum, included bus tours of historic sites, documentary screenings, 10 speaker presentations, a reception featuring local breweries and authors, as well as a colonial dinner.
According to conference organizer Brian Mack, member of Fort Plain Museum board of trustees, the event was created as a way to bring awareness to the history of the Mohawk Valley and its colonial revolution and Native American sites.
“The first three years we featured sites in Montgomery County, including Fort Plain Museum, Fort Klock, Nellis Tavern, Van Alstyne Homestead, Palatine Chuch and more,” Mack said. “Last year we did tours in Fulton County as well at Johnson Hall, Johnstown Jail and Fort Johnson. This year we changed it up by doing the Herkimer Home, Oriskany Battlefield and Fort Stanwix.”
In 2015, the conference started with six authors presenting during a one-day event and little expectation of success, but to the museum’s surprise more than 150 people attended. In 2016, more than 200 people attended, and this year the numbers stayed steady.
If interest continues to grow, said Norman Bollen, member of Fort Plain Museum board of trustees, a new location with more space may be needed.
“This is an effort to get heritage tours started again in the Mohawk Valley,” Bollen said. “It’s something that has been overlooked over the years even though there is a big market around the country and the globe of people that want to come to this area.”
John W. Moore of Newmarket, Ontario, attended this year’s event to support his friend, Canadian author Gavin K. Watt, who was a featured speaker at the conference. Watt spoke on the topic of “Neighbours Against Neighbours – Fort Schuyler and Oriskany.”
“We feel like this is home to us — it’s fabulous here,” Moore said. “What I think about a lot is the early farmers out in their fields who didn’t know whether they would make it home at night. I can’t fathom thinking of that day-in and day-out year-after-year during the whole Revolutionary War. But, from the American Revolution came the new country of Canada.”
The best way to encourage historic preservation, Bollen said, is to make it economically viable. That’s what this conference seeks to do by bringing guests from 18 states, Canada and beyond to spend money at businesses in Mohawk Valley and at historic sites, he noted.
“If people come here and want to see these places and spend money, then these places become too valuable to let go,” Bollen said.