People in Jefferson County carried a 600-foot-long rope 20 miles this weekend to commemorate a War of 1812 event. Elizabeth Jeneault explains why locals believe it's so important for people to remember the "Great Cable Carry."
JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. -- Local Boy Scout troops were busy preparing for another long day of walking Sunday morning. They had marched at least 10 miles the day before, all to honor the American troops and civilians who made a similar walk in 1814.
"The kids learn about the local history of the cable carry through this event which sometimes gets overlooked in the schools," said Kevin O'Rourke, a spokesman for this year's cable carry re-enactment. "They don't know how important this was."
The event served as a major turning point in the war. After the Americans won the Big Battle of Sandy Creek, they had to transport supplies to Sackets Harbor. The cable was needed to finish building a major battleship, however troops couldn't transport it by water because the British had control over Lake Ontario.
"The British knew that by controlling the lake they were going to win the war," said O'Rourke. "But the Patriots and the local people turned the tide of the war by carrying the cable."
The cable allowed the United States to finish a major battleship and regain control of the lake. Although the one used in this weekend's bicentennial walk was much lighter than the original, it was still difficult to carry.
"You're carrying it, you're sweating and then you have the heat coming down on you," said James Wheller, a local Boy Scout.
Organizers say that once the walk is finished, participants feel incredibly proud of themselves. And it's not just because they've learned more about their local history.
"What else is good for the kids is that they're out walking 20 miles this weekend," said O'Rourke. "They're not in front of the game consoles, they're not just lounging around."
A means to get active and experience what some of their ancestors may have been a part of some 200 years ago.