Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Local Peekskill resident Tom Hunt brings history to life at Fort Montgomery State Park


Fort Montgomery, just on the other side of the Bear Mountain Bridge, was the scene of a fierce Revolutionary War battle for control of the Hudson River. Visitors today can tour the remains of the 14-acre fortification, perched on a cliff overlooking the magnificent Hudson. On October 6, 1777, British, Loyalist and Hessian forces attacked Fort Montgomery and nearby Fort Clinton. The defending American Patriots, outnumbered 3 to 1, fought desperately until driven out of their forts at the points of the enemy bayonets. More than half of the Patriot forces were killed, wounded or captured.

The New York State Historic Site is where the past comes alive with living history demonstrations of artillery, musketry, music and camp life activities.

Peekskill Resident Tom Hunt, Blacksmith, 18th century interpreter and proprietor of Waterside Forge
Photo Credit: Waterside Forge Facebook Page

This Saturday, April 27, 2024, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm Fort Montgomery will bring Colonial Era Blacksmith at Fort Montgomery live and in person by local master blacksmith and 18th Century Historic Interpreter Tom Hunt. 

During the American Revolution blacksmiths played an important role supplying iron implements vital to the construction of military works like Fort Montgomery. Hunt will use 18th century tools and methods to fabricate items such as those used here in 1777! 

Peekskill Resident Tom Hunt, Blacksmith, 18th century interpreter and proprietor of Waterside Forge
Photo Credit: Waterside Forge Facebook Page

In addition to Revolutionary War Era Blacksmithing, on  opening weekend this Saturday, from 10:00am to 4:00 pm, Fort Montgomery will host local reenactor and outdoorsman Sean Bleakley. Sean will recount tales and traditional methods of fishing Shad in the Hudson, bringing to life this once vibrant tradition. Due to low fish numbers there is currently a moratorium on shad fishing in the Hudson. Sean (and possibly even his 90 plus year old father) will also showcase some of the gear and tackle of the trade in a  unique first person presentation of what fishing the Hudson was like in the 1960’s/70’s and before.

The following week, on Saturday, May 4, 2024 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tom  will once again grace Fort Montgomery when he will be demonstrating colonial era candle making and various lighting. Children can also make a beeswax candle (while supplies last). Both programs are FREE and Family Friendly!

Peekskill Resident Tom Hunt, Blacksmith, 18th century interpreter and proprietor of Waterside Forge
Photo Credit: Waterside Forge Facebook Page

Tom Hunt is a local Peekskill resident and proprietor of Waterside Forge. For over 20 years, Tom has been demonstrating and interpreting 18th century blacksmith techniques while relating it to local history. 

He has worked for Historic Hudson Valley and since 2011 has been the proprietor of Waterside Forge and Waterside Forge Consulting. He has forged reproduction hardware for Historic Hudson Valley sites, and provided  historical interpretation tours of Van Cortlandt properties and collections for visitors and school groups while working with Historic Hudson Valley. He has also designed and manufactured specialty equipment and props for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and assisted the staff with set up and execution of artist conceptions at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze as well. Tom loves doing demonstrations of colonial era blacksmithing and traditional crafts. For all of the events Tom Hunt will be at in the Hudson Valley over the course of the year, or for more information about his availability for schools, events, and historical re-enactments, contact Tom through his Waterside Forge Facebook Page.

Archeologists uncovering Fort Montgomery
Photo Credit: Fort Montgomery State Park Facebook Page

At Fort Montgomery, visitors can tour the grounds of the fort where archeologists have revealed many of Fort Montgomery’s remains, including stone foundations of barracks, the gunpowder magazine and eroded redoubt walls. In addition, visitors can get a spectacular view of the Hudson River from the Grand Battery, where reproduction cannon stand guard and are occasionally fired by the fort’s staff. 


View from the Grand Battery at Fort Montgomery State Park  Photo Credit: Fort Montgomery State Park Facebook Page

Visitors can also visit and learn about the important military post at the site’s museum, which showcases original artifacts and weapons, large scale models of the fort and the attack, highly detailed mannequins frozen in poses of battle, and an action packed fifteen minute movie of the 1777 assault.

If you can’t make either of these amazing events don’t fret, the Fort Montgomery State Historic Site and Museum are ope Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM – 5PM, and Sunday, 1PM – 5PM. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

For more upcoming events, follow the Fort Montgomery State Park Historic Site Facebook Page.

Visit the Peekskill Herald Events Calendar Features and the Peekskill Herald Event Calendar to see more local events.

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About the Contributor
Dave Mueller
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]