Fort Ethan Allen
Construction on Fort Ethan Allen began in 1893. The fort was not completed until many years after the first troops arrived. Lying along the Winooski River, the fort featured officers’ quarters, two cavalry barracks’, stables, a bakery, workshops and many other facilities. Initially the fort boasted one telephone, and was lighted by mineral oil, and was heated by kerosene. A trolley line connected the fort to nearby Burlington, VT. In the summer of 1909 the famous Tenth Cavalry, or Buffalo Soldiers, were ordered stationed at Fort Ethan Allen. Fort Ethan Allen was closed in 1961.
Backstory and Context
Life at the fort was began early and finished late. Reveille sounded at 5:30AM, first drill was at 9:00AM and a second was at 5:00PM. The day was filled with classes and work. Units from the fort frequently conducted maneuvers and demonstrations throughout the region. The Army’s F Troop was stationed at the fort. F Troop conducted exhibitions throughout New England.6
Fort Ethan Allen was designated as the Vermont’s National Guard mobilization point. Troops from the fort were dispatched during the Spanish-American War. A typhoid breakout forced troops that had been ordered to the Philippines to return to Fort Ethan Allen. Sick men were spread out all over the fort’s grounds. The Tenth Cavalry, or Buffalo Soldiers, began calling Fort Ethan Allen home in 1909. An article in the New York Age, a leading black newspaper, disputed claims that the soldiers received poor treatment while stationed in Burlington.7 During World War I up to 8,000 troops were stationed at Fort Ethan Allen. World War I was the fort’s busiest time, being designated as one of 15 ROTC training centers.8 In 1938, the fort became the headquarters for Vermont’s Civilian Conservation Corps.9The U.S. Army declared the fort inactive in 1944. Most soldiers and their families left the facility as the fort became a storage facility. In 1951, the fort was renamed Fort Ethan Allen Air Force Base and became the home of the 134th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Vermont Air National Guard. The Air Base remained open until 1960. Most of the fort’s grounds have been taken over by St. Michael’s College and the University of Vermont.10 The Fort Ethan Allen Museum opened in the former Pump House and is opened to visitation by appointment only.11