I had heard about the Star Trek Original Set Tour sometime ago and was determined to visit it the next time we headed through New York State.
As part of our road trip, we had headed up to the very north of NYS and visited the Thousand Islands Region that borders Canada. From here it was a 3 to 4 drive to Ticonderoga, a small town close to Lake Champlain, through the Adirondack Mountains. I had booked us on a set tour but had cut things fairly fine. Unfortunately, there had been some powerful storms passing through the area which has bought down power lines. So, as we crossed the Adirondacks we got caught behind convoys of ‘cherry picker’ bucket trucks on their way to make repairs to the power lines. This was making us late for our tour time, so when I got a clear stretch of road, just a few miles from Ticonderoga I put my foot down on the metal – not quite reaching warp speed. As luck would have it I caught the attention of a New York State Trooper and ended up getting pulled over and receiving a speeding ticket. Needless to say, we arrived at the set tour very late and I was extremely stressed. Luckily, we were able to join a later tour!
The Star Trek Original Series Set Tour is located in the small town of Ticonderoga, New York. When I say small we are talking about just over 3000 people. You may ask how this set tour found itself in rural Upstate New York. I will attempt to answer this question a bit later on.
Being a small town finding the tour building is not hard. It is located right on the main street and has ample parking. Looking the building itself it looks like it was formerly a warehouse or super market.
Before the start of the tour, we got time to hang out in the lobby where there are displays of costumes, props and memorabilia from the Star Trek original series. In the middle of the lobby is a platform with a model of the Starship Enterprise. As we waited we watched a small crew of men touching up paintwork around the lobby area. One of these men sported an impressive Elvis Presley quiff. Again, more on this later!
We started the tour and the set in the corridor of the Enterprise. If you have ever watched the original Star Trek series you were left with the impression that the Enterprise was huge and a maze of corridors. In reality, all corridors of the film set were tiny, perhaps a hundred feet or so long. Filming from lots of different angles just made it look huge. The tour takes you through many of the rooms of the Enterprise including the sickbay, science room and engine room.
The set itself is not the original Desilu Stage 9 set – that was destroyed as is often the case for TV series – but it is a faithful reproduction. Our tour guide was fabulous and bought the whole story of the set to like. It was interesting to see how many household items had been ‘re-purposed’ as futuristic props for the series.
One thing we learned was that Star Trek would never have become the phenomenon it became without the patronage of the TV personality Lucille Ball.
After her divorce from Arnaz in 1960, Lucille Ball had another hit sitcom that followed I Love Lucy; a somewhat lesser-known series titled The Lucy Show. But although several shows were filmed at Desilu Studios, Ball didn’t have another show that Desilu outright owned. When Desilu producer Herb Solow came to Lucy with Star Trek, she saw an opportunity to snag a show she could call her own. Although Ball wasn’t involved in the creative side of Trek, she was pivotal in financing the series. She refinanced a second pilot episode after the first episode — “The Cage” — was rejected outright.
It surprised me that the Star Trek original series only had 3 seasons (79 episodes) before it was cancelled in 1969. Years of re-runs kept the series alive until it was picked up and respun into spin-off shows and movies.
The owner of the set-tour, James Crawley – he was the man who was in the lobby painting with the quiff (his main job is being an Elvis impersonator) worked on the set building of the original Star Trek series. He formed a bond with the main set creator, who when he died passed the plans for the set onto Crawley. What followed was years of painstaking work to build a faithful reproduction of the original film set using the plans, photographs and video footage.
The final stop was probably the most iconic of all the rooms on the Star Trek set – the Bridge. Here is where Captain Kirk (William Shatner) would control (at least try to) all the challenges that would confront him and the crew, ably assisted by Mr Spock, Lieutenant Uhura, Mr Sulu and Mr Chekov. Here you’ll find the Captain’s chair which you can sit in for photos.
Coming back to why they were painting the lobby. Well. the day after our visit William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk was visiting. Apparently, he has been several times before, along with the remaining crew members still alive; Walter Koenig (Mr Chekov), George Takei (Mr Sulu) and Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura). Tickets for these events cost several hundred dollars and sell out quickly.
I have fond memories of the original Star Trek series from my youth, but would not class myself a ‘Trekkie’ – so I was not too disappointed that we couldn’t get our hands non some tickets.
Overall, for a nostalgic trip or simply to get close to some TV history a trip to the Star Trek original series set tour is a worthwhile visit if you are in the area.
Planning your visit to the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour
|Address:||112 Montcalm Street, Ticonderoga, NY 12883|
|Telephone:||T: (518) 503-5497|
Tues.-Sun.: May to October
Adult: (Ages 14-54) $22.50
Best time to visit Lake Champlain / Ticonderoga
Average temperatures in Ticonderoga vary an incredible amount. Considering humidity, temperatures feel cold for about half of the year and otherwise nice with a chance of rain or snow throughout most of the year. The area is less temperate than some — in the 34th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide. Weeks with ideal weather are listed above. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Ticonderoga, the hottest months are July, August, and then September. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally early August where highs are regularly around 83.2°F (28.4°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 62.8°F (17.1°C) at night.
Other places to visit around Ticonderoga
1. FORT TICONDEROGA
Fort Ticonderoga is one of North America’s most significant and oldest historic sites.
The historic site and museum is comprised of approximately 2,000 acres and includes the Log House Welcome Center, reconstructed fort, the Carillon Battlefield, the Pavilion, the King’s Garden, Mount Defiance, Mount Hope, Mount Independence, and numerous other historic features that span the property’s history. The Fort Ticonderoga Museum holds one of the most comprehensive and premier collections of 18th-century material culture.
2. AUSABLE CHASM
Known for its natural beauty, the Watkins Glen State Park features a series of waterfalls and gorges that are sure to amaze anyone. An almost two-mile hike will take you past 19 waterfalls and up over 800 stone steps.
There are a number of small trails leading off of the Gorge Trail, giving way to a number of other outdoor activities close by the main trail. There are tent and trailer campsites, swimming pools, picnic facilities as well as guided tours of the local topography.
Leashed dogs are allowed on the outer rim trails but not on the Gorge Trail.
The entrance to the park is right on Main Street in Watkins Glen. You are never far from the conveniences of a town while being able to get away to the wonders that are the gorges and waterfalls of Watkins Glen State Park.
Where to stay near Ticonderoga
1. CIRCLE COURT MOTEL – TICONDEROGA
2. TROUT HOUSE RESORT – HAGUE
3. NORTHERN LAKE GEORGE RESORT
Peaceful and secluded, Northern Lake George Resort is a serene Adirondacks family escape. Discover stunning lawn areas, a variety of water sports including plenty of rowboats and canoes, and two-story villa accommodations – all right here. All around are the exciting pursuits of the Adirondack mountains: skiing, tennis, and golf are available to you when you stay at Northern Lake George Resort. Those, plus a whole lot more! Because this resort brings the rich, ancient heritage of the Adirondacks into focus. Northern Lake George Resort is a tribute to history and a thoroughly modern family getaway. Whether you’re into fishing and want to cast a line with the experienced guides that the resort offers, or you want to explore the mountains with some hiking excursions, this is the place where you can do it all. Relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated. Escape to the last of the original “Old Hotels of Lake George!”