Friday, 2 October 2015


To follow up on my last post, thought I would share some photos of Fort Knox we went to in Maine on our trip through Upper East side of North America. We stopped into this fort on the way through to visit Acadia National Park and was blown away by the level of defenses it had. We got there early in the morning so we had much of the fort to ourselves and we self guided ourselves through, climbing multitudes of steps and winding through the long corridors - it pays to bring a torch (or mobile phone light in our case) as its quite dark when exploring the powder magazines and alleyways. I think we spent two and 1/2 hours looking around.

Fort Knox is located on a small hill on the edge of Penobscot River in the state of Maine, it was built to protect the river from Naval attack, as during this period the river was an important network for the Maine area and its locals.

The local memory and humiliating defeat of Maine at the hands of the British during the American Revolution - In particular the defeat of Penobscott expedition in 1779 - which set out to defeat the British at Fort George (which was still in construction at that stage) and see the end of the British in the area - ended up a complete debacle. The Americans lost 43 ships and over 500 troops and is regarded as the worst naval defeat for the Americans prior to the Jap's attack on Pearl Harbour. If you have never read the book "The Fort" by Bernard Cornwall - I highly recommend it as it outlines the history and tales of this battle, with the Brits being heavily outnumbered and also just how badly the Americans were led during the course of the events and eventual battle and retreat. We got to visit the village Castine while in the area and visited the remains of Fort George (or sometimes know as Fort Majabigwaduce) and was great to see the area first hand after reading the book.

This defeat as well as other defeats in 1814 and during the Aroostook War in 1839, ultimately lead to the Americans building the fort here.  The Fort cost close to a million dollars and construction taking over 25 years with it never being fully finished. The Fort never saw battle but it was indeed manned during times of war, and used for training.

The best feature of the Fort is the huge 15" Rodman cannons in "A" Battery and the
slightly smaller 10" Rodman cannon that was just inside the main fort structure (see photos I took) The large 15-inch Rodman (15-inch refers to the diameter of the bore) in "A Battery" was extremely powerful, but slow to maneuver. Twelve men were needed to load the cannon. They used a mechanical hoist to lift the 330pound (150kg) shell or 450pound (205kg) solid cannonball with two men having to manage the rammer alone! (so a very low rate of fire then ! .  At a 20 degree elevation, the cannon could fire a solid cannonball 5.5kms.

Fort Knox's "A" Battery and "B" Battery each had a hot shot furnace. These small brick structures were built for use with the 32 pound cannons, which were the cannons that were originally planned for the batteries.(but never installed. 10 and 15 inch Rodmans were installed in their place) Hot shot furnaces heated cannonballs so hot that, when
the balls hit wooden ships , the ships were set on fire. But with the development of the ironclad ships in the American Civil War period, the firing of red hot cannonballs was no longer an effective means of defense and hot shot furnaces became obsolete, so were never used at the fort.

So enough text lets get to the photos

Overall Aerial Photo - I took this from a billboard of course
The main entrance or Gate house

The long Alley - note the rifle slots
The Dry Moat - defense from land assaults

Being caught in the crossfire with rifle slots each side of the Moat and some cannons at each end as well.
It would be of been terrible to assault this Fort

The 10" Rodman Cannon - this thing is huge !!
The Barracks

Massive stonework arches

Looking into the Inner Courtyard

Cannons facing along the Gatehouse

The Original number of Rodman Cannons - mostly all recycled during WW2 for scrap metal

Battery A looking back towards the Fort and flanking howitzers from sally port

Battery A -  Rodman 15" Cannon - now that's a cannon indeed !!

Hot shot furnaces

Battery B

Cannon and Rifle ports looking down into the Dry Moat

The Bakery and kitchen

Love the brick arches

Battery A overlooking the River

Across the River - overlooking the Fort

The River wall - a steep climb for a would be attacker

Well that was Fort Knox - quite impressive I thought and great little fort to visit. I will post some more photos and blurb about some of the bigger and more well known Forts next time. Cheers

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