The British built the first Fort Erie in 1764 to protect lines of communication along the Niagara River.
The original fort was destroyed by ice, as was a second fort built on the same site. In 1803, the British began work on a new, stone, fort inland from the original site. During the War of 1812, the Americans attacked Fort Erie twice in 1812, captured and abandoned it in 1813, and then recaptured it in 1814. The Americans held it for a time, breaking a prolonged British siege. Later they destroyed Fort Erie and returned to Buffalo in the winter of 1814.
From around 1830 to 1860, thousands of freedom seekers used the Underground Railroad to reach sanctuary in Canada - the "promised land". Many crossed the Niagara River from the United States to Fort Erie, including Josiah Henson and his family, who arrived on the 28th of October 1830. The book Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriett Beecher Stowe, was patterned after his life. The park has been created to celebrate their lives and to remind present and future generations of their struggle to be free.
An interpretation centre is on the site and guided tours of the fort are available that feature various demonstrations by costumed interpreters. Since 1986, an annual re-enactment of the Siege of Fort Erie has taken place on its grounds.