In 1941 the United States Army faced the need for additional training areas and Fort Drum (then Pine Camp) was one of the areas chosen for expansion. At only 17,000 acres, the post needed additional space for training the units stationed there.
On Labor Day, September 1, 1941 the army took over 75,000 acres, displacing North Country families and eliminating five villages forever. LeRaysville, Sterlingville, Lewisburg, North Wilna and Woods Mills no longer exist.
The 525 families who lived in these villages and on the farm that surrounded them were paid "fair market" value for their land and were relocated by the New York Defense Relocation Corporation under the Farm Security Administration.
On October 19, 2002, the Fort Drum Cultural Resources Office , in cooperation with the Watertown Historical Society, led a tour of Fort Drum Historic Places. Some of the highlights of that tour are on these pages.
It was a wonderful experience, nostalgic and informative at the same time. Come, explore the Lost Villages of Fort Drum with us.