Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2010

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

The Fort McClary State Historic Site has stood its ground for more than 275 years. It was built to protect enemy approaches towards the Piscataqua River near the southern gateway to Kittery, Maine. It was named after Major Andrew McClary, who was a native to New Hampshire. He died heroically in the Battle of Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary War. The fort still stands as one of the most historic forts in all of Maine. It has done an excellent job of preserving the military history and changes in military architecture as well as military technology. It offers visitors access to not only a well known historical site, but also an excellent museum.

The site itself dates back to the late 17th century when Sir William Pepperell, a wealthy land owner, erected a crude defensive structure. Later in 1715, the Massachusetts Bay Colony created a permanent breastwork of six cannons for defense of the Piscataqua River.

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

Fort McClary was officially built in 1808. Between 1808 and 1868 Fort McClary saw numerous additions including the blockhouse, barracks, rifleman’s house, and granite walls. All of these features where built in separate stages and share a unique perspective into military architecture. There were further plans to expand the fort to make it more similar to its other Maine brethren, such as Fort Knox. However, as military structures and weaponry continued to advance, Fort McClary eventually became obsolete.

In the 1910’s, the fort as a whole had fallen into severe disrepair and its condition caused the fort to be officially abandoned in 1918. During its stint of active use, it was minimally used during the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. The State of Maine purchased the property from the Federal Government in 1924. Soon after, many of the dilapidated structures were tore down and never replaced. Civilian forces decided to use the remaining portions as a potential defensive structure during WWII. Today, only the blockhouse remains intact and standing and has been turned into a museum in 1987.

Fort McClary

Fort McClary

Today, the Fort McClary State Historic Site only serves as an educational tool for visitors from around the country, but also as an excellent seascape. Many people come to the Northeast, and specifically Maine, for the idealized scene of the ocean crashing on a coastline of treacherous black rocks and cliffs. However, many of these spots along coastal Maine have been turned into high-volume tourist areas and many people are shocked to see how landlocked many of these places actually are. The Fort McClary State Historic Site gives visitors a rare chance to see the iconic Maine coastline the way nature intended.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

The Penobscot Narrows Observatory caps of one the most impressive engineering structures in the world. It was built in conjunction with the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. OK, it is not really a Maine historic site but if you are looking to really see the Mid-coast region of Maine and even Mount Desert Island, then the Penobscot Narrows Observatory has everything that you want and more. The top of the tower is 42 stories above the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The Observation Tower can be accessed through the Fort Knox State Historic Site. Patrons are brought to the top by the tallest public bridge observatory in the entire world.

Penobscot Narrows Observatory View

Penobscot Narrows Observatory View

The view is impressive to say the least. Visitors are directly above a bridge that spans 2,120 feet over a steep, plummeting gorge and is a site within itself. The Observation Tower opened in 2007 and almost immediately became the most popular attraction in all of mid-coast Maine. This is largely because the glass tower on the top of the Penobscot Narrow Observatory gives visitors a 360 degree view of the entire region. On clear days, patrons can see more than 100 miles in any and every direction. This view spans from Camden Hills, which is where the mountains and sea collide, to Mount Katahdin, which is the highest mountain in Maine, and even the terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

The new Penobscot Narrows Bridge was built to replace the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, which was finished in 1931. It is one of only two bridges in the United States that uses a cradle system. With this system, the strands are carried within the stays from the bridge deck. This creates a continuous element and eliminates the need for anchorages into the pylons.

Each strand is composed of epoxy-coated steel and is inside a 1 inch tube. Since each strand may act independently, strands may be inspected, removed, and replaced on an individual basis instead of by groups of cables like most other bridges. The cable-stay system utilizes super-pressurized nitrogen gases that help to defend against corrosion.

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

The bridge is also being used to test carbon fiber strands, which are supposedly stronger and more durable than their steel counterparts. Six reference strands have been placed within the bridges cables and will be monitored to evaluate how effective they really are. Amazingly, the bridge was completely built within a 42 month period.

By stopping by the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, visitors get to see several marvels of engineering as well as breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding 100 miles of Maine landscape, which include thick forests, mountain, ocean views, and the busy Penobscot Bay.

Read Full Post »

Fort Knox Maine State Historic Site

Fort Knox Maine State Historic Site

Fort Knox State Historic Site is the home of the Maine’s largest historic fort. It is has a full and rich history even though it has never actually been involved in any battles. It features amazing architecture and unparalleled master craftsmanship. It’s construction took place between 1844 and 1864, however was never able to be fully completed, even though over $1 million were spent. It stands alone as the New England area’s most impressive unmodified example of military architecture of that particular period. It is also Maine’s very first granite fort.

It is located along the narrows of Penobscot Bay in order to protect the area from pending naval attacks. Its initial goal was to defend Bangor, Maine, a major source of ship-building lumber, from the British during the Maine-New Brunswick border dispute. This dispute was to resolve the border conflict that lingered after the Aroostook War. It stands as a pillar representing Maine’s first struggles for freedom. While never firing a shot, it garrisoned troops for both the Spanish American War as well as the Civil War.

Fort Knox Maine State Historic Site

Fort Knox Historic Site

Fort Knox was named after Major General Henry Knox who was America’s first ever Secretary of War as well as the Commander of Artillery throughout the American Revolution. He lived the last years of his life in Thomaston, Maine, which is very close to the fort. It was dubbed a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

It was designed to have two batteries that would face the river. Each battery was equipped with a hot shot furnace. The purpose of this was to heat the cannon shot to the point that it would be able to set opposing ships on fire. However, as ships shifted from wood to ironclad ships, this was much less useful and often disregarded completely.

Fort Knox Historic Site

Fort Knox Historic Site

The state of Maine purchased the land and the fort in 1923 when the Federal Government labeled it excess property and put the fort, along with its 125 acre property, up for sale. The state of Maine only paid $2,121 for it. Along with being a historic landmark for the state of Maine, it also serves as an entry site for the Observation Tower of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which was opened in 2007.

With the excellent views of the Penobscot area as well as beautifully constructed architecture, the Fort Knox State Historic Site should be on the itinerary of anyone visiting in the area. It provides a unique experience of New England military history and military construction. Admission for Fort Knox serves as a 2-for-1, as it also gives you access to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

Read Full Post »