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 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.
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.