Learn more about local history through lively programs

ORWELL/WEST ADDISON — Two Vermont State Historic Sites in Addison County are offering history programs on the weekend of Sept. 28 and 29.
First, British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne will come to life and visit the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m., to ruefully reminisce about his experiences during the American Revolution’s Northern Campaign of 1777. British actor-playwright Howard Burnham, now based in California, will present his lively and highly acclaimed one-man costumed program.
Burnham will portray Burgoyne in his later years looking back at his time in the Americas, some of the memorable characters he interacted with, and his ultimate surrender after the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777. The news of this surrender encouraged the French to enter the Revolutionary War on the American side, considered a major turning point in history.
In early July 1777, Burgoyne’s troops were threatening the American forces at Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga, leading to the dramatic withdrawal of the American Northern Army on the night of July 6 and 7. 
The program, sponsored by the Mount Independence Coalition and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, is $5 for adults and free for children younger than 15. It includes admission to the museum and all the trails.
Burnham has given nearly yearly performances at Mount Independence, including interpretations of Revolutionary War figures Lord Cornwallis, Banastre Tarleton, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Americans Thomas Paine and Gen. Horatio Gates.
Mount Independence, one of Vermont’s state-owned historic sites, is a National Historic Landmark and one of the best-preserved Revolutionary War sites in America. It is located near the end of Mount Independence Road, six miles west of the intersections of VT Routes 22A and 73 in Orwell. Call 802-948-2000 for more information. It is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Oct. 14.
Then on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at 1 p.m. history buffs can enjoy a leisurely guided walk back and forth across the new Lake Champlain Bridge connecting Vermont and New York, and learn about the history all around it. State historic site managers Elsa Gilbertson at Chimney Point in Vermont and Tom Hughes at Crown Point in New York will lead the tour. This is the last guided tour of the year, and is one of September’s Vermont Archaeology Month events.
The area has a rich and united history, with humans crossing and traveling there since glacial waters receded nearly 9,000 years ago. The narrow channel and peninsulas, or points, on each side made this one of the most strategic spots on Lake Champlain for the Native Americans, French, British, and early Americans. It continues to be an important crossing today, with much to see and do in the area. The new bridge, with its sidewalks on both sides, provides an extraordinary opportunity to experience the lake from above and view the scenic and historic surroundings.
Meet at the Crown Point State Historic Site museum in New York, near the New York foot of the bridge. The fee is $6 for adults, free for children under 15, and includes admission to both the Chimney Point and Crown Point museums after the tour.
The Chimney Point State Historic Site is located at 8149 VT Route 17. Call 802-759-2412 for information. The site is regularly open Wednesdays through Sundays and Monday holidays through Oct. 14, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Crown Point State Historic Site is located at the New York foot of the bridge. Call 518-597-3666 for the Crown Point museum.
For more information about the Vermont State Historic Sites visit historicsites.vermont.gov.

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