About Mary Ames Mitchell

Writer, Graphic Designer and recent RVer. Check out my website at www.MaryAmesMitchell.com.

Henry Knox Trail – Markers No. 3, 4, & 5 – Lake George

Map of Henry Knox Trail Markers 1 to 5

Searching for the markers for the Henry Knox Trail reminds me of geocaching. Marker No. 5 was especially difficult to find because it is on private property in the backyard of someone’s home overlooking Lake George. We had to trespass to reach it.

From Fort Ticonderoga (Marker No. 1), Knox hauled his sixty tons of heavy weaponry down the road from the fort (Marker No. 2) to the lake, where, on December 6, 1775, they were shuttled from the peninsula to Ticonderoga (Marker No. 3) on boats. Knox wrote in his journal, “Employed in getting the cannon from the fort on board a Gundaloe [gondola] in order to get them to the bridge.”

The boats were sailed or rowed around the peninsula of Ticonderoga into LaChute, a creek that tumbles over several waterfalls from Lake George to Lake Champlain. At the bridge, the artillery was transferred from water to land carriage. Loaded carts were pulled by ox and horses over the Portage Road – which still exists by that name – to Lake George.

At today’s Mossy Point Boat Launch (Marker No. 4), the guns were transferred to a flotilla of boats to sail down Lake George. the heaviest pieces were placed on a “scow.” Henry also had a “pirogue” and a “batteau” at his disposal. He wrote, “Employ’d in loading the Scow, Pettyaugre and a Battoe. At 3 O’Clock in the afternoon set sail to go down the lake in the Pettyaugre, the Scow coming after us ran aground, we being about a mile ahead with a fair wind to go down but unfair to help the Scow. The wind dying away, we with the utmost difficulty reach’d Sabbath Day Point about 9 O’Clock in the evening – went ashore & warm’d ourselves by an exceeding good fire in an hut made by some civil indians, who were with their Ladies abed – they gave us some Vension, roasted after their manner, which was very relishing.” (Marker No. 5).

Map Location Marker No. 3

Heading from the fort toward the town of Ticonderoga, just after crossing Route 22,  I found Marker No. 3 on the left (south) side of the street amongst a triangle of monuments.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

This is looking at the triangle from the other direction.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

Then I enjoyed walking around town. In this photo, LaChute is to the right and the Portage Road to the left. I’m facing the direction Henry would have traveled to get to Lake George.

This photo was taken facing the hill, Knox traveled from Marker 3 toward Marker 4. Marker No. 4 is at the Mossy Point boat ramp at the north end of Lake George.

 This is the last waterfall along LaChute before the waters flow into Lake Champlain.     

To get to Marker No. 4, we (Charlie, Paula and I) drove through town and south to Black Point Road. The marker is at the entrance to Mossy Point Landing. The markers in New York look exactly alike. They don’t have anything on them identifying what number they are.

Map Markers 3 to 4

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 4 

This is where the guns were loaded onto sleds on Lake George. From here we had to retrace our steps to Highway 9, then follow it south along the west side of Lake George to Sabbath Day Point.

This map is the result of a lot of walking around Sabbath Day Village and asking people where the marker was. Not a soul had heard of it, not even a woman who had been spending summers in the village her whole life. An elderly resident figured out it had to be at the end of the point which was the back lawn of the residents who lived there. He pointed to this point.

Marker No. 5 point

So we mustered the courage to trespass and found it.


On the way out, I took this photo of the street signs for others to follow to reach Sabbath Day Point Village. One of the residents recommended we take a look at the historic Grace Chapel.

So we backtracked. It was built in 1889.


Fort Ticonderoga – the Henry Knox Trail Markers No. 1 & 2 – My Book Launch

Henry Knox Trail Marker One Fort Ticonderoga

Marker No.1 for the Henry Knox Trail stands in the middle of the Parade Ground at the center of Fort Ticonderoga.

I approached the fort from Norwich, Vermont, where I had spent the night with my brother, Tom Ames and his wife Marguerite. Highway 73 took me through the adorable towns of  Bethel, Rochester, Brandon, and Orwell, as well as the Green Mountain National Forest, as in the Green Mountain Boys who helped Knox with his expedition.

As I came over the ridge, I could see the valley below leading through cow farms to Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain is 124 miles long and averages only 14 miles wide. Highway 73 meets up with Highway 74 and crosses the lake to the New York side via a ferry, “one of the oldest ferry crossings in North America.”

About 800 feet beyond debarking the ferry I found the entrance to Fort Ticonderoga. I would stay for three nights at the nearby Best Western (the only place in town, but quite nice) and come and go from the fort. For this blog, I’ll combine the images into one event.

A friendly staff member greeted me at the gate, “Hi Mary.” without me even introducing myself. Chelse Martin, the manager who organized my book signing, had done her homework. This treatment – Queen for a Day – continued throughout my visit. The gatekeeper gave me the fort’s information brochure and blessed me on my way.

A peaceful tree-lined drive led me to the parking lot and Visitor’s Center.

Entrance to Fort Ticonderoga

A table display at the entrance to the Visitor’s Center told me I was expected.

My book signing/singing event took place the second day I was at the fort. I spent the first day taking all the tours and looking around. Not until the very end of the day did I drive to the top of Mount Defiance and take this photo. It gives you the lay of the land. You can see how Fort Ticonderoga is on a peninsula that sticks into the middle of Lake Champlain. Lake George, an important waterway leading to the Hudson River, thence to New York City, is behind me as I take the photo. “Ticonderoga” is the Mohawk word for “land between two waters.” When the French built the fort starting in 1755, they called it Fort Carillon. The American’s changed the name when they took it four years later in 1759.

Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance

The general  “Key to the Continent Tour” starts at the American flag in front of the tunnel that leads into the Parade Ground. “Cannon in their wooden stock” and “mortars squat and fat” line the wall overlooking Lake Champlain.

I attended a gun demonstration for which they fired a replica of a 1775 cannon. I toured the displays of artillery in the museum. And I enjoyed the view of Lake Champlain.

I walked the rooms showing where the cobblers worked, the soldiers slept, and where the clothing was made. Dressed to match this season’s theme of 1781, staff members enacted the various activities that went on in the fort. For some seasons, the fort highlights periods when the English held the fort. Sometimes they highlight when the French held the fort. The uniforms change with the theme. This man is one of the uniform tailors.

I ate lunch with my second brother, Charlie Ames, and his wife Paula at the fort’s cafe overlooking the lake. Charles and Paula drove from their home on Buffalo to join me.

I took the boat tour to get a feel for the geography Henry Knox faced when he transported the guns.

I walked the tour of the Kings Gardens. After the Revolutionary War, the fort fell into decay. In the 1800s, the Pell family purchased it and rebuilt the fort, an early act of historic preservation. The Pell home, known as the Pavillion, and it’s beautiful gardens are just a short walk north of the fort.


By the time of my book signing, I was well versed about Fort Ticonderoga and all the battles of French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War that took place there. I was also reassured that the story about Knox’s expedition, as I told it in my ballad Henry’s Big Kaboom was correct. The audience was small but mighty.

Here I am singing the verse about Henry finding the guns at Fort Ticonderoga. Paula helped turn pages.

Here I am signing the chorus for the final time. My little audience helped.

This is Chelse Martin displaying my book in the fort’s gift shop.

As I exited the fort, I passed and photographed Marker No. 2 of the Henry Knox Trail. It stands along the long driveway through former battlefields where many French, American, British, and German soldiers lost their lives fighting for their homes, independence, and/or their kings.

Added on July 8, 2018

On YouTube, I posted a video that combines this post with the others about Fort Ticonderoga. Check it out:

200 Cousins

I will be reading/singing by ballad Henry’s Big Kaboom to groups of children at Fort Ticonderoga in New York this Sunday and the Henry Knox Museum in Maine next Saturday. Both Chelse at the fort and Mary Kay at the museum have asked me to introduce myself and explain my connection to Henry Knox. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I have been a graphic designer for forty years. I have been gathering information about my family for nearly as long.

So, I drew a chart of my branch of the family that descends from Henry. In this case, the picture has a thousand words. I included a photo of the painting of Henry that John Singleton Copley painted. The original hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The painting of Henry’s daughter Lucy Flucker Knox (who married Ebenezer Thatcher) hangs at the Knox Museum. I found the ‘tin print’ of her daughter Lucy Anna Thatcher in the Massachusetts Historical Society. We don’t know who Lucy had a pre-marital affair with to produce my great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames. Rules of society in those days required that she give up her baby and pretend he didn’t exist.

Charles took on the Ames surname from his foster parents. The tin print of him with his first wife, Sarah Daniels, and their son Charles Wilberforce Ames is also in the Massachusetts Historical Society archives. The photos of Charles and his second wife, my great-great grandmother Fanny Baker are in folders in my closet. The painting of their daughter Alice Vivian Ames hangs on my living room wall. She married Thomas Winter from England. The photo of their daughter, my grandmother Edith Ames Winter, stands on my bookshelf in my bedroom. She married Knowlton Lyman Ames Jr., nicknamed Snake, and had three sons. My dad, Thomas Ames, was the middle one, but I didn’t include photos of his generation or of mine, my children’s or my grandchildren’s.

My chart shows all Charles Gordon Ames’ descendants. Over two hundred are living today and several of them will be there helping me sing. With the chart rolled up in a cardboard tube, I have also packed my ukulele.

Following the Henry Knox Trail

Marker for the Henry Knox Trail

In 1926, honoring the sesquicentennial (150-year) anniversary of the Revolutionary War, the states of New York and Massachusetts erected 56 stone markers with brass plaques commemorating Henry Knox’s 1775 expedition from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point (New York) to Dorchester Heights outside Boston, Massachusetts. The markers trace the route, which looked something like this:

Sketch of the Henry Knox Trail

I first learned about these markers when I was researching Henry Knox in 2007. My corgi, Annie, and I were on a road trip circling the US in a BMW 3-series station wagon. We spent nights in Motel-6es – they love dogs – or with my relatives. I had just learned I might be Henry’s greatx5 granddaughter and wanted to take a look-see at Fort Ticonderoga. But I was traveling in April and the museum was still closed.

I did, however, pass this marker as I traveled north alongside the Hudson River (the same marker that I show above).

Henry Knox Marker by Road

Since 2007, I proved my Knox heritage through the Daughters of the American Revolution. Here’s the line:

Hereditary Line from Knox to Me

Then I wrote an illustrated, sing-along children’s book to teach my grandchildren about Henry’s expedition. It’s called Henry’s Big Kaboom.

Henry's Big Kaboom Book Image

Book Signings

This Thursday, I am traveling from my home in Northern California to New England to attend two book signings. In between the book signings, I will follow the Henry Knox Trail.

On Sunday afternoon, June 10, I will be at Fort Ticonderoga. I am so excited to finally see the fort. I will be sitting by one of the cannon Henry transported.

The following Saturday, June 16, at 10:00, I will be signing more books at the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine. They are holding an event honoring the Society of the Cincinnati that Henry helped found. The event is titled “Boom.” It will be one big “Boom” weekend.

In between the signings, I will follow Henry’s route, hunting down the markers one by one. Luckily, through the Hudson River Valley Institute’s website, I obtained a detailed guide for finding the markers. The guide includes maps and explanations for why each marker was placed where it was. In most cases, it quotes what Henry Knox wrote in the journal he kept during the expedition. (I believe the original of the journal is housed at the New York Historical Society.)

Henry Knox’s descendants

Henry and his wife Lucy had thirteen children, but only three lived to adulthood. Only one of those three, Lucy Flucker Knox, left descendants. In other words, there are no descendants with a direct male line or with the last name Knox.

Our line was a sticky thing to prove because Henry’s granddaughter Lucy got pregnant with my great-grandfather Charles when she was not married. The Knox family and Lucy’s father’s family, the Thatchers, tried to keep Lucy’s pregnancy a secret. Lucy married later, but her husband never found out about her affair.

Charles met his mother once. The tender letter in which he describes this meeting is part of a document I have on my website that explains this whole ordeal. After Lucy and her husband died in 1863, Charles tried to contact the Knox and Thatcher families to find out who his father was. They did not cooperate. A cousin led him to believe that his father was a sailor who perished at sea two years after the affair. It turns out there was no such man.

Lo and behold, as a result of seeking genealogical roots through DNA tests, a man named Burt Williams in Kentucky came up with a ‘zero distance’ match to my third cousin-once-removed Peter Lesley Ames who lived part-time in Venezuela and part-time in Florida. My great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames (he took the last name of the people who adopted him in 1830) has 250± living descendants, but only Peter and his son Charles Gordon Ames the Second have a direct male line to CGA the First. Peter passed away this year, but we still have Charlie, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burt Williams’ family has traced the Williams male line to the family’s emigration to America in the 1600s, but not, yet, to England. Burt’s cousin Nancy Magnuson is diligently working on this project. She found a Williams family living in Thomaston, Maine, at the time Lucy Anna became pregnant. But their male forefathers don’t match Burt’s. The common ancestor must have lived in the 1500s before the families migrated to America. “To be continued.”

250 Cousins

As a result of this genealogical work, I updated a family tree that includes all 250± of Charles Gordon Ames’ living descendant by his two wives. Through emails, I met my third cousin Amy MacDonald (she is one week older than I am) living in Maine not too far from the Knox Museum. She also writes picture books for children. We have joined forces. She will be there on the 16th with her books, too. I can’t wait to meet her.

Here is Henry Knox’s family tree through the first three generations.

Henry Knox Family Tree

Lighthouse Road Trip – Epilogue

Ann Delfin sent me the group photo that our PleasureWay RV group took of ourselves on the last night of our nine-day rolling rally. Here it is.

PleasureWay RV Club Lighthouse Rolling Rally - Group Shot

PleasureWay RV Club Lighthouse Rolling Rally – Group Shot

Here is a map showing the lighthouses and RV Campgrounds we visited.

Lighthouse Rolling Rally

And here is the whole trip starting in Anacortes compiled into a 25-minute YouTube video.

Thanks again Tim O’Malley for organizing everything.

Lighthouse Road Trip – Final Days

I’m posting Days 12 to 14 from home because I was either out of cell-civilization or driving. And when I first got home and let Annie out in the backyard, we found a little squirrel trapped there. Something was wrong with his forelegs. He could run like mad, but not climb. After closing Annie in the house, I fetched a large cardboard box from the garage, somehow managed to get the squirrel to fall back into it, quickly closed the flaps, and placed a drawing board over the top of the box to make sure the frightened little guy couldn’t get out. WildCare is only a few blocks from my house. They told me I could call in 24 hours to see how he is. I think he must have fallen from the very high oak tree into my yard during the two weeks I wasn’t there and broken his right arm. He would have been in pain but had plenty to eat and no one to bother him until I arrived.

Anyway, by the time I got home again, unpacked Ramsey, emptied his tanks, and washed him down, I was too blasted to blog. However, I had been writing nightly in Notes on my iPhone, so now all I have to do is copy and paste.

Lighthouse Road Trip – Day 12 – May 14 – Brookings to the Redwood Forest

Closing in on the border of Oregon and California, one of our tasks this morning was to fill up with gas, which I did in Gold City at $3.25/gal for regular. I later passed a station offering $3.19/gal, but oh well. The first station in California would start at $3.79/gal. For the guy in the motorhome filling up next to me, whose credit card wouldn’t allow him to buy more than $100 worth of gas at a time, that was a much bigger deal. I’m going to miss having my gas pumped for me as they do in Oregon.

Some 20 miles later, I wove from 101 to the beach in Harbor, Oregon, just past Brookings, and found the privately owned Pelican Bay Lighthouse overlooking a parking lot, a boat yard, and an RV park that skirted the beach.

The RV Park might be fun to stay at there in the harbor.

According to Tim’s info sheet, this lighthouse was built by a Bill Cady in 1999. He simply wanted a lighthouse as part of his beach house. Oregon’s most southern beacon can be seen 11 miles out at sea. The US Coast Guard officially commissioned it to guard the mouth of the Chetco River.

Our next stop was Crescent City, California’s most northern port, guarded by the Battery Point Lighthouse. Crescent City is situated at the culmination of the mighty Smith River.

According to the only two of us (not including me) who arrived during the narrow window of 3:00 and 4:00 pm to view it, the volunteers give a terrific tour and explain how the lighthouse survived the tsunami back in the 1960s.

The working lighthouse sits on an isthmus that, except for an hour twice a day at the high tides, is cut off from the mainland. Most of us arrived at 10:30 am ish when the path was under water.

I discovered that back in California, my T-Mobile worked better, so I stayed in the parking lot after everyone left, posted Day 11 on my blog, ate lunch, and gave a tour of Ramsey to a couple of curious looky-loos who were also hopping from lighthouse to lighthouse, only in a sedan.

The most exciting part of the day for me was the drive through the Redwood National and State Parks. As mentioned on previous blogs, one of my goals when purchasing Ramsey last May 30, 2017, was to visit all the National Parks in the contiguous US before May 2027. I wanted to visit all the National Parks in California before May 30, 2017. When I got my passport stamped on this day, I achieved that second goal. Yeah! And like all the parks, Redwoods National Park is awesome.

Home tonight is under the majestic trees at the Emerald Forest RV Park.

Since some of us will start our trips home tomorrow after visiting the remaining lighthouses on our itinerary, we gathered in the aptly named Celebration House to honor Tim, who had organized this fantastic rolling rally.

We took a terrific group photo that I hope someone (Andy?) will share with me.

Lighthouse Road Trip – Day 13 – May 15 – to the Mendocino Coast

The last day of our PleasureWay Owners West Coast Group Rolling Rally started with coffee clusters and a few goodbyes.

Larry, Maureen, and their Fred were among the first to depart.

Some of us, including me, would continue south on our own after seeing the last three lighthouses. Some would only visit two of the lighthouses, return to Emerald Forest RV Park in Trinidad and have one last campfire together.

Trinidad Head Lighthouse, only 2.7 miles away, should have been easy to find, but it was the most difficult of the entire trip. It didn’t help that our GPSes were not connecting to the satellites there in the rocky coastal village surrounded by redwood forests. (BTW Trinidad, founded in 1850, is the oldest town on the Northern California coast.)

We were misled by the “replica” we found near the wharf once we negotiated the hairpin turns to reach it. All of us thought, “that’s it?” with a great deal of dismay. Some shrugged and departed for the next lighthouse. Andy and I investigated further and were told the real lighthouse, built in 1871, was just around the bend of the path we could see leading up the hill.

Making our way along the path we had some gorgeous views of Trinidad harbor.

45 minutes later, after hoping at every turn to view the lighthouse and following every “spur” along the path, we came to a locked chain link gate with a sign informing us that the lighthouse was open to visitors only the first Saturday of each month.

Returning to the wharf, we ignored the placard that said the lighthouse “is not visible from this point” and walked to the end of it. After our last fruitless attempt to see the real beacon, we submitted to being content with the replica.

Moving on, we drove 24.3 miles to Eureka, where the Table Bluff Lighthouse that once stood at the end of a sand spit guarding the entrance to Humbolt Bay, now decorates the parking lot of the restaurant on the harbor’s wharf.

Andy, Peggy, Cindy, Don, June, and I ate lunch at the restaurant, most of us choosing their clam chowder, which was yummy, and all of us enjoying getting to know each other a bit better. By nature, Class B RV owners are traveling adventurers with interesting stories to tell.

Andy wanted to seek out the ruins of the foundation where the lighthouse used to be. So I followed his rig to the end of the sand spit, where we got out and traced a sandy path between the flowering ice plant to a clearing identified by broken bricks scattered around. Further inspection under the brambles uncovered the old granite steps and the remains of the foundation. I’d mistakenly left my iPhone and camera in Ramsey, so no pics, sorry.

Andy turned north from there and Annie and I headed south to the final lighthouse on our itinerary, the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse. It too was moved from its original location farther north after its duties were taken over by an automated light buoy. Including my stop near a farm for a half hour nap, it took me three hours to get to the lighthouse in Shelter Cove. This jewel and it’s gorgeous location did not disappoint.

First I drove down HWY 101 parallel to the Avenue of the Giants (redwoods), which I have cherished several times in the past. At Redway, I turned coastward along the Briceland Thorn Road, wiggling and wiggling and wiggling through more rocky mountains covered in forests.

Turning on Shelter Cove Road, I climbed over a very steep grade over which you virtually drop straight down to sea level and the tiny town with the lighthouse sparkling in the center.

I asked the man who checked me in at the RV Park across the road from the lighthouse if everyone arrived with their brakes smelling of burning rubber. He answered, “Pretty much.”

He also encouraged me to take the walk starting with the steps that descended the bluff below the lighthouse,

past the rocks covered with cormorants and sleeping seals (“baby ones, too”),

along the pebbly beach around the cliff, and ascend again by the road leading from the bluff to the boat ramp.

From the boat ramp, I watched a hang glider take off. After about 20 minutes gliding around, he (or she) landed on the airstrip between the RV Park and the edge of the bluff.

I watched the sunset from my rig and slept to the sound of crashing waves. The lighthouse was right outside my window. I never would have come here if I weren’t looking for the lighthouse. I’m so glad I did. This camping experience tops on my favorites list.

Lighthouse Road Trip – Day 11 – May 14 – Cape Blanco

Cape Blanco, named by the Spanish for its 200-ft white cliffs, is Oregon’s most western point and one of the windiest. The lighthouse there was nearly closed to those of us who visited on Saturday because the wind speed nearly topped 50 mph. It was still a challenge opening and shutting doors when I arrived yesterday, Sunday.

The only difference between the layout of this building and the others we have seen is there is no passageway between the keeper’s workroom and the three-flight stairwell. We visitors were allowed to climb the iron stairs to the walkway that surrounds the lens, a different perspective from climbing into the lens as we did at the Umpqua River Lighthouse.

As usual, we got a lovely view of the Oregon Coast.

We’ve been told by all the guides that Fresnel lenses came in six grades. Grade 1 lenses were the biggest, over seven feet tall and over 2000 lbs each. The lens in the Cape Blanco Lighthouse is an unusual Grade 2E manufactured by Henry-Lepaute in Paris in the mid 1860s and first lit in 1870. Our guide didn’t explain what the “E” stood for, just that this lens is larger than a Grade 2 but smaller than a Grade 1.

Displays in the workroom gave us a firsthand look at the oil containers and the hurricane glass toppers. (The display in a previous lighthouse only showed a photo of one.)

Near the lighthouse, visitors are invited to tour the historic Victorian home built by the Hughes Family in the late 1800s. The Irish couple came to California via the East Coast in search of gold. Not making a fortune that way, they turned to farming and raising sheep and cattle. Over time their ranch grew to over 2000 acres.

One son became the keeper at the lighthouse, seen in this photo. (The smocks the keeper and his two assistants are wearing while cleaning the soot from the lenses keep the soot off their uniform and keep the brass buttons on the uniform from scratching the glass prisms.)

Other activities for the day included exploring Port Orford, the first place in Oregon where the East Coast settlers established a town. That did not go down well with the local natives. One of the placards describes the bloody conflict that resulted.

Some of us ate here.

We stayed a second night in the Humbug State Campground.

Bob and Diane from Arizona organized cocktail hour around their campfire.

I took the opportunity to try sautéing some chicken in a pan on their fire, which I ate with a just-right avocado.

Bill did his outdoor grilling in a different manner. He employed a tripod to support the hatch cover of one of his storage closets to make a table. Then he cooked pork chops and pineapple in a cast iron pan on an induction plate. He surrounded the plate with a small metal folding screen to keep the splattering grease off his fancy paint job. Sonny Boy the dachshund watched from behind.

Once the pork chops were cooked, Bill doused them with bourbon. They looked and smelled yummy. BJ added a broccoli salad.

We hit the road again on Monday starting with Pelican Bay and on onto California.