Historian Find Location of 1614 Dutch Fort in Hudson

A drawing from 1646 of Fort Nassau.
A drawing from 1646 of Fort Nassau.

Four hundred years after Dutch explorers built a small fort along the banks of the upper Hudson River, a local historian believes he has pinpointed the exact location of the ill-fated stockade that was one of the earliest European settlements in North America.

John Wolcott said he used old maps, including one dating to the 1600s, to determine the location of Fort Nassau in what is now a rail spur at the Port of Albany.

“I can only guarantee that this is where it was built,” Wolcott said. “I can’t guarantee how much is left of it. There’s only one way to find out.”

Wolcott said he has presented his findings to local officials in the hope that they’ll authorize excavations at the port site.

Fort Nassau was constructed in early 1614, seven years after the English started the Jamestown settlement in Virginia and six years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Mass.

A Dutch crew traveled upriver from Manhattan to establish a fur-trading outpost. Built on an island that was prone to flooding, the fort was abandoned after about three years. Seven years later, the Dutch built Fort Orange, in what is now downtown Albany.

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