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Fort Ann’s Battle Hill sees new fight over proposed quarry

2010-12-31T16:27:00Z 2011-01-01T10:39:58Z Fort Ann’s Battle Hill sees new fight over proposed quarryBy DAVID TAUBE, dtaube@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
December 31, 2010 4:27 pm  • 

FORT ANN -- Town historian Virginia Parrott says at least six bodies from the Revolutionary War era and beyond are buried near Route 4 in an area known as Battle Hill.

But the operators of a Mechanicville company, which is seeking to excavate rock from a 51.5-acre parcel located about 1.2 miles northeast of the village of Fort Ann, says its property is free of Revolutionary War remains.

The battle site is historically significant, Parrott says, because it is where Colonial troops delayed British Gen. John Burgoyne's advance to Saratoga, helping to ensure an American victory at the Battles of Saratoga in the fall of 1777.

"That whole hill is a battle site," Parrott said. "There was thousands of troops there. We're not talking about a little group of soldiers ... like Roger's Rangers that went out with 10 or 12 people. We're talking about Burgoyne's entire army."

But Anthony Grande, president of Troy Topsoil, pointed to an archaeologist report, commissioned by his company, that showed no historic remains on the parcel targeted for the quarry operation.

"The battlefield is south of me where there is an issue," Grande said on Thursday. "It's definitely south of there, probably 3,000 to 4,000 feet. I'm not exactly sure."

Troy Topsoil Co. Inc. applied in August 2009 for a mining permit to start a rock quarry operation on the parcel. The application was denied because it lacked a state Historic Preservation Office review, among other reasons, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

But the company has submitted a new application that, if approved, would affect the Battle Hill site.

Parrott found out about the application on Dec. 27, the day it was received by the DEC.

She consulted with the DEC's Warrensburg office, where an official confirmed the permit would affect the Battle Hill site, Parrott said.

Parrott, who has served as Fort Ann town historian since 1975, said that, according to historic documents, the site contains human remains.

She said the mining operation should not disrupt what some describe as the most important historic site in Washington County.

"DEC, in my opinion, if they permit this, they are in violation of all state laws," Parrott said. "You cannot disturb a burial site."

Other archaeological studies have found no evidence of remains related to Native American culture or items that predate the World War II era on the site, according to findings submitted by Grande's firm for the revised application. Grande also said eight mines are already operating along Route 4.

The site is not listed on state or federal registers of historic places, according to Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

But, in 1927, the state and the town placed an informational plaque about the Battle of Fort Anne in a rock formation on Route 4 near the site.

Philip Perazio, a historic preservation project review specialist for the state, wrote in an e-mail that the location is an archaeologically sensitive area and that the Revolutionary War site of Battle Hill and several pre-contact Native American sites are in the immediate vicinity.

He also wrote that his office has no record of having been asked to comment on the quarry project.

Parrott said several documents support the site's historic authenticity. One is from Asa Fitch, a 19th century scientist born near Salem.

That document includes the exact coordinates where human remains are buried. One interview, contained in the book "Fort Ann: 300 Years of History" locates bodies east of Kane's Falls, about a quarter of a mile north of Route 4.

"We know of six. And there are probably a lot more," Parrott said, identifying the remains as Native Americans and British and Colonial soldiers.

If the DEC rules that the application is complete, residents will have an opportunity to comment on the project.

The project will also go before the town of Fort Ann's Planning Board. The state Department of Transportation is also involved because of a highway work permit required for a new access road at the site.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. PLEASESTOP
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    PLEASESTOP - January 03, 2011 3:36 am
    My family owns part of Battle Hill and it is POSTED so no hunters or anyone else can touch or go onto our part unless they are given permission... Its a shame that just up the road they want to just start blowing up the earth to make some money when so much history is on Battle Hill and around that area.....
  2. boston
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    boston - January 01, 2011 6:38 pm
    I would like to see the whole site left alone. The entire hill should be considered as a monument to those who fought and died there.
  3. tjc012004
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    tjc012004 - January 01, 2011 6:18 pm
    If memory serves me correct is this not the site of our nations first use of the stars and stripes during an armed conflict? Any intrusion into the battle hill area is despicable and should be stopped immediately! Protect and preserve our national heritage.
  4. cutwaste
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    cutwaste - January 01, 2011 5:45 pm
    If there are in fact important historical sites on this property
    the property should be bought by either the State of New York or any of the do-gooders that do not like any kind of development. The owner of this property is entitled to a fair return of his investment.
    It is not enough to say "no" just because some people don't like the idea. This should be looked at without the emotional outburst.
  5. Foxhill53
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    Foxhill53 - January 01, 2011 3:19 pm
    I always thought Battle Hill belonged to NYS and that is why it never had any development on it. Growing up in Fort Ann I know many people who have found so many different historic items by either hunting the ground or they would go just to find treasures. I have seen many.
    Bravo to the Post Star for bring this to the town of Fort Ann’s attention before any blasting of Battle Hill started!! I drive on Rt. 4 on my way to work and have been seeing some clearing of some trees, get bigger and bigger, wondered why and now I know why OMG!
    Mining has been going on as long as I can remember in South Bay, Stiles’ pit in Fort Ann. We need sand for our roads for winter, we need material for black topping our roads, people blast for building houses all over the world if needed! But not at a historical NYS marked site known and shown!
    To the men of Battle Hill: May the land that was fought and marked be preserved forever in their honor! I hope the people of Fort Ann and the country all see this article and speak out against this mining of Fort Ann’s Battle Hill!!
  6. NCC-1701
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    NCC-1701 - January 01, 2011 9:05 am
    Oh, yeah the law says ...!!! There is an ongoing dig in a town adjacent to Fort Ann, in a historically sensitive area. That dig is a joint effort between that township and DEC. Teh machinery was on site before these two entities even consider the historical aspect. I believe the response was, when brought to their attention, "We forgot all about that!"

    So, YES, the local town and county historians MUST be ever vigilant and ensure that true and verifiable historic sites are protected OR properly excavated by trained and qualified archeologists who meet all requirements for the work!

    Again, in a nearby township, a very large company undertook extensive archeological work prior to their construction; those artifacts are properly documented and will be preserved for posterity. Eventually these will be accessible in a museum.

    So, historical preservation is EVERYONE's concern and duty to enforce. Burial grounds are special places, should ONLY be disturbed for the most urgent reasons!
  7. notfromhere
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    notfromhere - January 01, 2011 7:41 am
    i wonder what archeology company these people hired that said no archeological evidence found? i found stuff there years ago with my metal detector....all from the revolutionary war period- these greedy people will do anything for money- they would mine saratoga battlefield if they could- trust me- they woundnt pull this stunt in a city like clifton park that has money-Fort Anne- wake up- dont let them ruin it
  8. woodsplitter
    Report Abuse
    woodsplitter - January 01, 2011 5:38 am
    It looks like this site needs to have a independent review done.The one the company paid for apparently is flawed and only takes in account what the company that paid them wants.If there is graves their and it can be proved.That shows the company that did the review didn't do their job.They just made it look that way so the mining could continue.The company that did it should be looked into to see if there are others that they have gave a okay to that shouldn't of gotten it.This needs to be stopped now.
  9. Hermit
    Report Abuse
    Hermit - December 31, 2010 9:31 pm
    Rock mining closed off the old historic military road from Dresden to South Bay. The road was first used by the Indians, soldiers in the 1700s and later by stage coaches. Mining continues from Whitehall all the way to Fort Ann and Hartford, they'll keep going, history won't get in their way.

    thezuule; Federal law? Ground cannot be broken without archaeological work being done? Very strict guidelines about this? I wish this was the case, I'm a history buff myself and have hiked or hunted most of this area.

    A close friend of mine worked for a construction company doing a project in a historic area of Lake George. He described the many human remains he found buried while digging. He was told to keep his mouth shut or the project would be halted and he'd lose his job.

    Strict guidelines are in place but NY cares more about $$$$
  10. retired
    Report Abuse
    retired - December 31, 2010 6:47 pm
    And next, they will want to mine the Saratoga Battlefield.
    The idea of mining this is an insult to any Fort Ann residents, and to any true American History Buffs.
  11. thezuule
    Report Abuse
    thezuule - December 31, 2010 5:15 pm
    I'm sure it did Frank, it's federal law and is enforced by the State Historic Preservation Office. To anyone complaining about this please take a class in archaeology so you know what you're talking about. Ground cannot be broken without archaeological work being done, and trust me on this one, archaeologists will protect any site they deem historically important. There are very strict guidelines about this and they are followed to the letter. Whatever nostalgic connection people have to the site is exactly that and nothing more. Science has been done because it's the LAW that is was. They will break ground if they have permission and unfortunately no amount of complaining will change that. Anyone who says this is a violation of NYS law doesn't have a firm understanding of it.
  12. frank1
    Report Abuse
    frank1 - December 31, 2010 4:51 pm
    "submitted by Grande's firm" This should have a complete review by qualified independent archaeologists.

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