Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fort Knox, Maine

After taking in the views from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory, we spent a few hours exploring Fort Knox. 

In the 1800's, Maine was involved in a number of border disputes with Canada, and officials felt a fortification was needed to protect this section of the Penobscot River from the possibility of a British invasion. Officials were especially interested in protecting the city of Bangor, which was rich in lumber used for shipbuilding. 

Fort Knox was constructed from 1844-1869. By the time the construction was completed, the technology and building techniques were nearly obsolete. For example, there were two batteries (sections of the fort equipped with cannons) facing the river. Each battery had a hot shot furnace, which heated cannonballs to a temperature hot enough to catch ships on fire. By the time the fort was complete, ships were no longer made of wood; they were constructed with iron, rendering the hot shot cannons useless. 

Fort Knox never saw battle, and was purchased by the state of Maine and turned into a National Historic Landmark. 

The fort has been very well-maintained and was unexpectedly fun to explore. There were endless tunnels, doorways, and rooms. This underground pathway led to Battery B, where cannons would have defended the river. 

Many of the dark corridors required a flashlight! 

These doors were made of incredibly thick wood and were covered in strengthening rivets. The entire fort was made of granite, making it the first fort in Maine to be constructed of something other than wood. All the granite, brick, and other materials used for building had to be brought to the site by water, and a complicated process including pulley systems, belts, and oxen was used to distribute construction materials around the fort. 

People were dwarfed by the size of the fort; it was massive. 

Fort Knox was constructed with multiple layers. Each layer was designed to be another obstacle for an attacking enemy to have to move through. 

A Rodman Cannon with a placard beside it detailing firing instructions. This cannon would have taken 8 men to load and fire it. 

A recreation of one of the gunpowder storage rooms located in the fort's interior. 

When we were done at the fort, we were surprised to find this incredible beetle on our van's window. His antennae were as long as one of my fingers! 

Often, we Nomads avoid historical attractions that charge an entrance fee to help ourselves stay on budget. Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, though, were things we decided to pay to see. It cost $7/per person for both the Fort and the Observatory, which we felt was a great deal. We spent hours between the two things, and really enjoyed them. We wish more places were like this: reasonably priced to be accessible to everyone. Thank you, Fort Knox and Penobscot Observatory, for a great time! 

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