Plattsburgh Barracks (1812-1946) - A War of 1812 post first established as Cantonment Plattsburgh in 1812 in present day Plattsburgh, Clinton County, New York. Abandoned by the Army in 1946. Acquired and expanded by the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and named Plattsburgh Air Force Base, closed by the Air Force in 1995 under the BRAC program.
War of 1812 (1812-1814)
The Battle of Plattsburgh was fought in and around Plattsburgh by both ground and naval forces on 11 Sep 1814. The British forces under Sir George Prevost attacked with a Naval force and 15,000 regular British troops. The American forces under General Alexander Macomb and Commodore Thomas Macgonough managed to overcome the British fleet and force the British Army back to Canada. This victory thwarted British plans to take New York City and to control Lake Champaign and helped to end the war three months later.
U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)
Plattsburgh Barracks appears not to have been garrisoned during the U.S. Civil War but was regarrisoned in 1865 as the war came to a close.
In 1870 an inspection of the post identified the building now known as the Old Stone Barracks as a two or three company barracks, with four of the eighteen rooms assigned as a hospital. The stone enlisted barracks occupied the south side of a 200' square parade and the smaller officers quarters occupied the east side of the parade. The structures identified in the inspection included:
- Enlisted Barracks 200' long by 26' wide, two stories high 18 rooms
- Officers Quarters 70' long by 25' wide, two stories high 16 rooms, eight sets of quarters
- Headquarters 24' long by 18' wide, one story high
- Commissary 40' long by 18' wide, two and a half stories high, two storerooms and an office
- Carpenter shop 60' long by 16' wide
- Guardhouse 50' long by 15' wide, three rooms and two cells
- Ice house 10' by 12'
The mean strength for the post in 1868 was 119 and 91.33 in 1869.
In 1893-1897 the post was rebuilt northwest of the original location. The new post was centered around a huge 40-acre parade known as the "U.S. Oval" with officers quarters (mostly duplexes) lining the west side and enlisted barracks lining the east side. In the construction of the new post, two of the War of 1812 fortifications, Fort Scott (4) and Fort Moreau, were leveled. Human remains were recovered at both sites and were interred in the old post cemetery southwest of the old stone barracks. The old post buildings were repurposed and continued to be used through this period. The old stone barracks became a band barracks for a period of time.
Many of the 1893-1897 buildings were restored in the 1980s and remain today, repurposed as private homes and commercial businesses.
Cold War (1947-1991)
The U.S. Air Force acquired and expanded the post in 1953 and named it Plattsburgh Air Force Base. A new complex was added south of the old Plattsburgh Barracks that contained a flight line, nuclear weapons storage, alert facilities and modern support facilities. The old barracks was retained and portions used as housing.
The base was a major Strategic Air Command (SAC) flying base and later an Atlas missile control center. As successive weapons systems were deployed to the base additional facilities were built or upgraded including 12 remote Atlas missile silos.
The major weapons systems deployed to Plattsburgh Air Force Base included:
- B-47 Medium Bomber (1955-1965)
- 12 Atlas F Missile sites (1961-1965)
- B-52G Heavy Bomber (1966-1971)
- FB-111A Strategic Bomber (1971-1991)
- KC-135 Refueling Tanker (1973-1994)
The base was abandoned by the U.S. Air Force on 30 Sep 1995 as a part of the BRAC base closure program. The Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) was created to repurpose and manage the 5,000-acre former airbase.
Private property in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, New York. The 1838 stone barracks remains standing along with a brick magazine but the buildings are boarded up and not open to the public. The old 1838 stone officer's quarters was torn down in the 1960s. The original 200' square parade still fronts the old barracks and the old post cemetery is still behind the barracks. Most of the 1890s post around the U.S. Oval still exists and has been repurposed for private housing and businesses. The look and character of the 1890s post remains and markers pointing out the historic buildings are strategically placed as you drive around the U.S. Oval. At the south entrance to the old 1890s post are two static display aircraft from the cold war era, a B-47 named "The Pride of the Adirondacks" and an FB-111A.
The old U.S. Air Force flight line area has been converted from military operations to civilian operation as Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) using the upgraded 11,758' military runway. The 12 remote Atlas missile sites are under civilian ownership.
The Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) has transitioned the remaining parcels of land to a commercial real-estate company for sale. The Old Stone Barracks has been reportedly sold to a Canadian developer as of 20 May 2011.
Location: Plattsburgh, Clinton County, New York.
Maps & Images
Lat: 44.681257 Long: -73.44488
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 573
- North American Forts - Fort Plattsburgh Barracks
- Wikipedia - Plattsburgh Barracks
- Battle of Plattsburgh Association
- Plattsburgh Barracks
- Wikipedia - Battle of Plattsburgh
- Wikipedia - Plattsburgh Air Force Base
- Plattsburgh Atlas Missiles Silos
- Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC)
Visited: 18 Jul 2012
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