Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fort Knox, Maine

Visited 16 Jun 2012 - Fort Knox (1844-1923) was built as a Third System coastal fortification starting in 1844 and never fully completed. It was the first and the biggest granite fort built in Maine. 
Fort Knox Entrance Display
Fort Knox Entrance Display

At the beginning of the Civil War the fort was unfinished and unarmed. Work continue throughout the war and at the end of the war it was almost complete and partially armed. Work continued until the 1870s but was terminated when Congress defunded coastal defense fortifications. Today the fort is one of the best preserved and interpreted Third System forts in New England.
Fort Knox from Across the River
Fort Knox from Across the River

Our trip to Fort Knox from Portland, Maine began on a bright sunshiny day but by the time we got to the fort it was really overcast and not a good photo day. We really thought it would not be a productive day but the minute we saw the fort, the day was made. 
Visitor Center Museum
Visitor Center Museum in 1900 Mine Storage Bldg.

At the entrance booth you have the choice of purchasing admission to the fort and/or the 420' observation platform atop the nearby Penobscot Narrows Bridge. We skipped the bridge observation platform because the weather was a bit ugly at the time. As you exit the parking lot toward the fort you pass by a modified Rodman cannon and the park museum/visitor center housed in a 1900 mine storage building. 
Fort Knox Battery B, 15" Rodman Cannon

The path to the old fort passes above Battery B which has a 15" Rodman cannon laying in it's emplacement and a restored hot-shot furnace. Battery A and Battery B stretch along the waterside below the stone fort. A second 15" Rodman cannon is mounted in it's emplacement at the middle of Battery A.

Fort Knox Interior Parade
Fort Knox Interior Parade, Officer Quarters at Left, Barracks in Center, Circular Staircase on Right

10" Rodman Cannon in Casemate
10" Rodman Cannon in Casemate
The entrance to the fort is on the waterside and it leads up into the parade. As you enter, you face the back wall that contains the enlisted barracks and mess in an unusual stair step arrangement. To the left is the officer's quarters and to the right is a restored magazine. On each of these sides is an enclosed circular staircase that leads from the parade to the guns on the terreplein above. If you turn back toward the entrance you can see the gun casemates lining the waterside wall. Mounted howitzers are on display inside the central bastion and one 10" Rodman cannon is mounted in a casemate.

Two Mounted Flank Howitzers
Two Mounted Flank Howitzers

I climbed up a circular staircase and walked around the terreplein to get a better view of the river and the approaches to the fort. Terrific view from the top of the central bastion. From the terreplein you can get a better picture of the fort plan, including the ditch surrounding the structure, the scarp and counter scarp, the bastions, and batteries A, B, C, and D.

Scarp (left), Ditch (center), Counter Scarp (right)

We exited the main fort and went down below to get a closer view of Battery B and then Battery A. Battery A is larger than Battery B and contains emplacements for two of the huge 15" Rodman cannons as well as 30 of the 10" Rodman cannons. Each battery has it's own magazine and hot-shot furnace.

As we left Fort Knox, we traveled over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge to the other side of the Penobscot River to get the view from the other side. Lots of viewing places in the Town of Bucksport and the view is terrific.

For more info and pictures see the FortWiki.com page on Fort Knox.


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