When the war between the United States and Great Britain, known as the War of 1812, ended after the Treaty of Ghent was signed, then-President James Madison decided to build a Fort at the Canada–US border of Lake Champlain to prevent future invasion and keep Canada out. That was a sound idea, except there was one issue. The fort was built in Canada.

War of 1812

The War of 1812 originated from the British’s opposition to US trade and their desire to expand its territory in North America. In 1807, the Royal Navy implemented tighter restrictions on American trade with France. And so, The US Congress declared war in 1812. The Native Americans were also unhappy about America’s expansion, and so they sided with the British, although some sided with the Americans. The war ended with Peace talks between Britain and the US in 1814, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed. However, one British general led an assault on New Orleans after, unaware of the said treaty.

Construction of Fort Blunder

To protect against an attack from British Canada, construction of the octagonal structure with 30 feet walls began in 1816. Two years after the beginning of the construction, then-President James Monroe visited it and the military reservation adjacent to it, only to find that a surveying error caused them to build their fortification in the Canadian land.

“Fort Blunder” (Fort Lennox) Isle aux Noix, Lake Champlain, Quebec (Wikimedia Commons).

The new survey revealed that the 45th parallel north was actually located around 1.2 km south. Thus, their construction falls on the Canadian border. Now, that’s some expensive mistake.

They immediately stopped the construction and abandoned the site. The materials were collected and used by the locals to build their homes. It was never named, but it earned the moniker “Fort Blunder.”

Fort Montgomery

The desire to deter British Canada from a possible future invasion was still there. After the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which resolved the border issues, they constructed a second fort in the northernmost point on Lake Champlain. Work continued until the 1870s—over thirty years in the making. It was named Fort Montgomery in honor of The American Revolution soldier Major General Richard Montgomery, who was killed during the Invasion of Quebec.

Fort Montgomery in Rouses Point, NY (MfwillsCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

In 1926, the US government sold Fort Montgomery and its adjacent Military Reservation in a public auction. In 2006, Victor Podd decided to put the fort on sale on eBay. His family had owned the fort since 1983 when his father purchased it to build his company’s headquarters called Powertex. The winning bid was $5,000,310, but the sale didn’t push through for some reason. In 2008, it became part of the list of “Seven to Save” properties made by the Preservation League of New York State.