WALLOOMSAC, N.Y. -- The "Road to the Battle of Bennington" is highlighted by the route of a German dragoon Lieutenant Colonel in British service during the American Revolutionary War. That man led a detachment from Gen. John Burgoyne's loyalist army from Fort Edward to the Bennington Battlefield right outside present-day Walloomsac.
The route will be a part of a new global positioning satellite-guided driving tour of the events leading up to the Battle of Bennington, marked by steps taken by Col. Friedrich Baum. To the best of its ability, a new GPS-driven mobile application will be prompted by location to give the user a historical briefing of events that unfolded on their way to the battlefield.
"It will tell you what happened here and there along the way, knowing well that parts of the road that (Baum and his men) came through aren't there anymore," said Louis Miller Museum director Charles Filkins.
The PassagePort application was created by Lakes to Locks Inc. in partnership with National Geographic, using Google Fieldtrip technology. The beta version of the application is expected to be up and running for the grand opening of the Baum trail on Saturday, June 7, when Lakes to Locks is dedicating the historic route with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and bus tour.
Festivities will start at 11 a.m. in the Canal Corp parking area at Fort Miller near Champlain Canal Lock 6 in the town of Fort Edward, where the Baum trail begins. Following the ceremony, visitors can join a bus tour or travel in their own vehicles along the interpretive route to learn about Baum's story. At the end of the trail at the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site on N.Y. Route 67, guided tours by costumed interpreters will enhance Baum's story that led to his fate on the battlefield.
A kiosk will mark the beginning point of the interpretive trail at the Canal Corp site in Fort Edward on N.Y. Route 4, which will depict an overview of the Fort Edward site during the Revolutionary war. Another kiosk at the North Hoosick Stewart's Shop, 4702 N.Y. Route 67, will mark the near end of the trail before visitors reach the Bennington Battlefield.
The Washington County Historical Society and Filkins established the in-depth research that helped establish Baum's historic route, which will be incorporated into the June 7 event and the PassagePort application.
The project was funded with grant money from the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership, as well as by donations from the Washington County Historical Society and Stewart's Shops. Lakes to Locks compiled the data and obtained the intellectual property rights on the mobile application technology.
Lakes to Locks manager Andrew Alberti said the Baum trail will be the pilot run of the PassagePort beta technology, focusing on the German involvement in the Revolutionary War. He anticipates a full version for public use to be available once the kinks are worked out by the end of summer. Once the application is up and running, he said he hopes to incorporate other historical routes on the Lakes to Locks Passage or otherwise.
Alberti said he hopes to sell the application's use to other historical sites around the country as a toolkit for tourism and economic development. He said the technology is a catalyst for augmenting tourism around historical sites. "In my prior experience in the national parks system, it's necessary to incentivise activities to increase traffic and time spent in those areas."
To attract visitors to spend more time at historical sites and surrounding businesses, the application will prompt users to answer questions about historical events and to take pictures in specific locations and post them to their Facebook profiles. Alberti said he wants to offer tangible and intangible rewards to users who complete the tasks, such as a free ice cream cone at Stewart's and grand prizes.
"We are marketing this app as a unique tourism experience, at the same time increasing the time visitors spend in these communities," Alberti said.
The data collected by the application will allow the technology's administrators to round out economic impact indicators such as how many people use it, how much time they spend on it, what businesses they visit and where they detour to. The information gathered may help to improve the technology and expand its use.
The June 7 events will formally introduce the mobile application, in which representatives from Lakes to Locks Passage, New York State Parks and the Hudson-Hoosic Partnership will attend. Filkins and representatives of Washington County Historical Society will attend to authenticate that the provided history of Baum's expedition is historically accurate.
There is limited space on the bus tour, which costs $25. Reservations and payment can be made out to the Washington County Historical Society, c/o Kay Tomasi, P.O. Box 573, Salem NY 12865. Lunch at the battlefield is included in the bus tour, however those who travel in their own vehicles may purchase lunch for $10 at the event.
For Lakes to Lock's fully gathered history of Baum's expedition, visit http://www.lakestolocks.org/content_detail.php?uid=ltl9427411ECA72E233D .