In the winter of 1687, the men stationed at Fort Niagara were overwhelmed by disease and starvation. Of the 100 men stationed at the garrison, only 12 would survive that brutal winter.
Father Pierre Millet, a Jesuit missionary, was a member of the rescue party that arrived at the fort in the spring of 1688. Father Millet erected an 18 foot wooden cross in honor of the men who perished.
In 1825, President Calvin Coolidge named the 18 square foot section surrounding the cross a national monument. It was the smallest national monument ever named in the U.S.. At the monument dedication, the original wooden cross was replaced by a bronze version, which still stands in its place.
In 1949, monument status was abolished by Congress, and the memorial was transferred to the State of New York, to be a part of Fort Niagara State Park.