The Army Corps of Engineers began building this fort in 1844, on a bluff overlooking a particularly vulnerable waterway.
Photographed by Benjamin Williamson
During the Revolutionary War, the Province of Maine was the scene of a naval defeat so disastrous that it tarnished the reputation of artillery commander Paul “the British are coming!” Revere. Then, after the Revolution, the British just kept coming: they controlled the Down East coast for nearly a year during the War of 1812 and provoked northern Mainers during the 1838–39 Aroostook War over Maine’s border with Canada (more of a spat, really — no shots were fired). By 1844, Americans had had enough, and the Corps of Engineers began building this fort, on a bluff overlooking a particularly vulnerable waterway. Cannons pointed from the granite pentagon’s river-facing walls. Deep trenches surrounded the land-facing sides. Manholes in the courtyard led to underground, bomb-proof supply rooms. The place was ready for the British — but the British never came. Union soldiers occupied the garrison during the Civil War, but the Confederates didn’t come either. The most action this fort has seen is from the thousands of annual visitors who today explore its cool, dark passages. Some opt for a bird’s-eye view from a neighboring observatory, home to the fastest elevator in Maine.
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