Clio Logo

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.


  • Post Card of Fort Ethan Allen
  • Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Ethan Allen
  • View from water tower early 1900s
  • Article in the Bennington (VT) Banner dated March 24, 1893 that speculates to the reasons behind the commissioning of Fort Ethan Allen.
Demonstrates the ever changing nature of International Relations.
  • Part 2 of the Bennington Banner article
  • New York Age article dated August 5, 1909 refuting accusations made by an dishonest reporter against the citizens of Burlington, Vt regarding their treatment of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed at Fort Ethan Allen. The New York Age was the...
  • (Part 2 of New York Age article) ... self proclaimed "Leading Negro Newspaper"

    In 1893, The U.S. Army’s Quartermaster General issued orders for Captain Guy Howard to oversee the construction of Fort Ethan Allen, in Essex, Vermont.1 Many Americans, including politicians and newspaper editors openly questioned the wisdom or reasons why the U.S. Army would build a fort in Vermont. Congressional representatives pointed out that Canada was “a friendly neighbor”.2 Editors of the New York Age pointed out that while Canada was a friend, Britain had been a foe in the past and was in the process of upgrading fortifications throughout its American possessions.3 Local residents raised money to purchase the necessary 600 acres. The site was finally chosen because of its proximity to railroads.4 In 1894, the first unit, the Third Cavalry arrived at Fort Ethan Allen. Construction continued while troops arrived and local residents contributed to beautification efforts at the fort.5

     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.9

    The 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 

1. “The Vermonter Vol. V No. 1”, (St. Albans, VT, Charles S. Forbes Publisher, 1899), Google Play, accessed April 4, 2015, p. 109. 2. “Politics & Economics: The Construction of Fort Ethan Allen”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381: Special Topics in Art and/or Architectural History (Fall, 1998), accessed April 4, 2015, http://academics.smcvt.edu/thefort/History/Politics&Economics.htm 3. “Our Frontier Defenses”, Bennington Banner, Bennington, VT, March 24, 1893, Newspapers.com, accessed April 4, 2015 4. “Politics & Economics: The Construction of Fort Ethan Allen”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 5. “Life at the Fort, 1894 – 1933”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 6. “Early Life at the Fort – The Men on Duty”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 7. “No Objection To The 10th”, The New York Age, New York, NY, Newspapers.com, accessed April 4, 2015 8. “Early Life: War Time at the Fort”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 9. “Life At Fort Ethan Allen from 1933 to 1960”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 10. “Life At Fort Ethan Allen from 1933 to 1960”, Historic Fort Ethan Allen, Saint Michael's College Art 381 11. “Fort Ethan Allen Museum”, Parkinson Books.com, accessed April 4, 2015, http://www.parkinsonbooks.com/fortethanallenmuseum/feampages/museumhome.html