Still home… still cleaning out bookshelves and finding gems! Here is one I found written on a random piece of paper dated from 2013.
““I will stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower and will watch to see what He will say within me and what answer I will make” (Habakkuk 2:1). God says, “Set your watchtower, and fill it with seers.””
Let’s see what Erie history and the land tell us about early European fortifications. The sketch which follows is a rendering of what the French Fort Presque Isle would have looked like.
It was situated on a bluff above the bay and where Mill Creek originally emptied into the lake. Doors on the north side allowed easy access to the lake. Doors on the south side led to (what is today) Parade Street continuing south via Old French Road to Fort LeBoeuf in Waterford.
Side note – You may notice the fairly large creek beside the fort. This is Mill Creek, which has since been diverted to prevent another downtown flood. On August 3, 1915, a severe flood cut a swath of devastation through the heart of Erie. Mill Creek is now flowing through a concrete tube running under the city of Erie to Presque Isle Bay, where it empties near today’s Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Back to the fort. It was built with local chestnut trees, was about 120 square feet, and was constructed in the typical French style with bastions (triangular protrusions) at each corner. This location had a commanding view, allowing the 150 French Marines and Canadian Militia to watch over the lake, creek and bay. Interestingly, construction records suggest it was designed primarily as a shipping center as opposed to a military outpost. This makes sense given the French were in the lucrative business of trapping beaver and sending the fur pelts back to Europe.
Pictured below is a monument in Erie’s Heritage District at the foot of Parade Street. The Erie Stone is in the center of this memorial for the French and British forts built there. The stone, situated at the south east corner of the fort, was used as a starting marker to layout the city of Erie.
The rendering below is the French Fort LeBoeuf in Waterford, also 1753:
The stream pictured in the upper right-hand corner would be LeBoeuf Creek which connects downstream with French Creek which connects with the Allegheny River flowing on to Pittsburgh.
When the French built Fort Presque Isle in Erie and Fort LeBoeuf in Waterford, as part of their chain of forts into the Ohio Valley, they may not have had the scripture from Habakkuk in mind but they certainly established a fortress system following the design of the land.
Before the age of the automobile and highways, man traveled over waterways, using streams, rivers, and lakes. But not all streams of water connect with each other. Sometimes there is high ground, usually a place from where the streams originate. A place where equipment and supplies must be carried from one waterway to the next, called a portage. A portage is a place of hard work. Imagine having to carry canoes, and camp gear through thick woods or swamp land to get to the next lake or creek? It was much more labor intensive than floating or paddling supplies over water.
Because of a high ridge of land running east-west along the southern border of Lake Erie; natives, explorers and early settlers who wanted to travel south by waterway had to exit Lake Erie and portage to some other stream or lake. When the French were looking to establish their claim on the Ohio Valley, they scouted the area and made plans to build forts at key points in the waterway/highway system. However, due to the recommendation of an unnamed voyageur, French-Canadian Governor Duquesne changed the plan at the last minute. Instead of using the Westfield to Chautauqua Lake portage route, he chose to portage between what is now the city of Erie and Lake LeBoeuf in Waterford (see the blog titled Invisible Erie). These locations, Erie, Waterford and the 15-mile portage between them became the gateway to expanding European empire into the Ohio Valley.
Connecting God’s natural design with His spiritual design, do you see God’s Kingdom in Erie County as a gateway? I do! What if we all set a watchtower, in whatever sphere of influence the Lord has put us, and obey His Word? Educators – watch and pray for good discernment and knowledge (Psalm 119:66). Business leaders – Remember it is the Lord your God who is giving you power to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). Broadcasters & journalists – Speak the truth to one another, judge with truth for peace in your gates. Do not devise evil in you heart against anyone (Zechariah 8:16). Public servants – Know that when the godly are in authority, the people rejoice (Proverbs 29:2).
Watch, stand in the gap and pray (Ezekiel 22:30), and see how the Kingdom of God advances for the good of the people and glory of God!
“Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
Watch and pray for our land …… cindy