About eight miles north of Ticonderoga  is the village of Crown Point, not to be confused with the Crown Point Historic Site a few miles farther north. The village of Crown Point was once known for its iron industry, while at the Historic Site are the ruins of two forts.
Hard though it is to believe today, the quiet, near-deserted area just west of Crown Point was once a major industrial center filled with dirty clanking machinery. A rich bed of iron ore was discovered here in the early 1800s, and throughout that century, the region teemed with mines, forges, and railroads. The high-quality ore attracted the U.S. Navy, intent on securing iron to build its first iron-clad warship, the Civil War–era Monitor.
Crown Point’s industrial activity centered on the company town of Ironville, now a village so small it’s all but disappeared. In its heyday, Ironville boasted a company store, company housing, and company script. Today, it’s an exceptionally lovely hamlet with a strong New England feel.
Behind a white picket fence in Ironville’s center presides the Penfield Homestead Museum (708 Creek Rd., 518/597-3804, www.penfieldmuseum.org , 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Thurs.–Sun. June–Oct., adults $4, children $2). This 1828 Federal-style building was once home to industrialist Allen Penfield, the first man to use electricity for industrial purposes (in 1831). Exhibits tell the story of Penfield’s inventions and the area’s industrial past. A collection of ancient machinery slumbers out back.
To reach Ironville from Ticonderoga , take Route 74 to Corduroy Road. From Crown Point, take Route 47 west, which becomes Ironville Road and then Corduroy Road.
North of Crown Point, a pudgy spit of land juts into Lake Champlain . Flat and windswept, with sweeping views of the north, the point once provided an ideal lookout spot. The French built Fort St. Frederic here in 1734, only to be conquered by the British in 1759, who in turn built Fort Crown Point.
The ruins of both forts still stand, near a visitors center (739 Bridge Rd., off Rtes. 9N and 22 near the Champlain Bridge, 518/597-3666, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Mon. May–Oct., adults $3, seniors and students $2, children under 12 $1) that provides historical background. Much of the area has not been fully excavated, but it has a lonely and haunting appeal.