The Fort Popham State Historic Site feature not only a historic fort but excellent photography opportunities and a chance to see some amazing wildlife. Fort Popham is well-known as a coastal defense land battery. It was one of several forts that were built near the mouth of the Kennebec River over the past three centuries. It’s original construction was approved because of growing concerns about the effectiveness of Confederate naval ships preceding the Civil War. It is composed almost entirely of granite blocks and utilizes a unique crescent shape that spans almost 500 feet in circumference.
Construction of Fort Popham was began in 1862, however it was never to be completed as construction ended in 1869. It was to be used to help fortify and protect Maine’s capital, Augusta, from a confederate invasion. The granite needed to complete the 30 foot walls of the fort was taken from the nearby Fox Island and Dix Islands. Within the walls were 36 cannons that were arranged with two separate tiers of casements. Each cannon, individually weighed around 25 tons and could fire shot that would weigh up to 480 pounds. On the opposite, or back, side of Fort Popham a low moated curtain was built that featured 20 musket ports around a central gate. Unfortunately, in 1905 construction began on Fort Baldwin which is located on the headland above Fort Popham. Fort Baldwin was to feature longer-range guns and would immediately render Fort Popham obsolete.
Before Fort Popham, the site was still utilized for military purposes. Originally, a minor fortification was constructed during the American Revolution and in 1808 the Federal Government added a battery that became known as an “embargo fort”. It was actively manned until 1815 and saw action in the War of 1812.
The Fort Popham State Historic Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. However, many visitors grab much more than just a history of Maine’s coastal military tradition on an average visit. Many people enjoy the nearby fishing opportunities that have become well-known for being a great way to spend a day. There are also more photography opportunities than any single person could take advantage of. From the fort architecture itself, to the wildlife and surrounding land. Often visitors snap excellent pictures of otters, seals, and a wide variety of beautiful birds. There are very few areas that are fenced off (for safety reasons), so there is ample opportunity to take a day and just explore the in’s and out’s of the Fort Popham State Historic Site.