Coast Defense Forts of New England

A Mighty Rodman Cannon Fires at Fort Adams circa 1890.

Seacoast forts were the nation's primary means of strategic defense from the 1790's until World War Two. Almost every seaport on the east coast had at least one fort to protect it at one time or another. Visting historic seacoast forts is a lot of fun because finding them can be challenging and they usually have pleasant suprises for both military buffs and casual tourists who seek and find them. Another desireable feature of this kind of tourism is that seacoast forts are usually in close proximity to pleasant seaside communities. Happy Hunting!

Army Corps of Engineers Index of New England Defense Sites. Although this makes for dry reading - many Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) are listed in this index. The reports contain vital historical data for the sites in question.

Forts of the East Contains a listing of all forts in New England.

Coast Artillery Corps Branch Insignia


Maine New Hampshire Massachusetts
Rhode Island Connecticut Related Sites


General Information about Several Maine Forts.

Fort George, Castine. Served as both a British and American Fort during the War of 1812. Aerial Photo

Fort Knox, Prospect, Maine

Fort Knox is the most impressive American fort north of Boston. Well worth the trip if you are traveling "Down East". An excellent photo of a mounted 15-inch Rodman gun at Fort Knox is HERE. There is also a Aerial Photo of the fort.

Detail of Masonry at Forts Knox and Popham.
(Images used by permission of and copywrited by Eric Boutilier-Brown.)

Eric Boutilier-Brown is a commercial photographer from Canada who has several images of Fort Knox and Fort Popham in his on-line portfolio. His focus is on the fine details which make both of these forts works of art. Well worth a look!

Fort Madison Read the history of this little known fort.

Fort William Henry, Pemaquid Point

Fort William Henry is situated on beautiful Pemaquid Point. The reconstructed fort sits on a site fortified from 1630 until 1775. Aerial View.

Fort Edgecomb

Fort Edgecomb is one of the few remaining second system forts with an intact blockhouse. A great place to relax and have a picnic.

Forts Popham and Baldwin Fort Popham was one of the last of the third system forts to be built in the 1860's to 1870's. Construction was suspended when the fort was only two-thirds complete. Fort Baldwin is an Endicott period fort with a total of seven intact gun emplacements dating from both world wars as well as an observation and fire control tower. A rare emplacement for an early 8-inch breech loading rifle is located near Fort Popham. A few good photos of both forts are HERE.

Chris and Jamie's Maine Forts Chirs and Jamie are two Maine kids who made a webpage about a few forts in their area. Its the first page we've seen about forts made by kids and for kids. Please note the unique "cannon ball" system for rateing the forts.

Fort Gorges Situated on an island near the beautiful city of Portland, Maine, Fort Gorges is one of the last of the classic 3rd System forts built.

Diamond's Edge Restaurant, overlooking Portland harbor, is located in an old building which once belonged to Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island. If you can afford it - you can buy a restored officer's quarters in McKinley Estates.

Battery Keyes at Fort Williams.

Fort Williams is an Endicott era fort in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and was built to guard the southern approaches to Portland harbor. It was active from the late 1890's to the early 1960's. This is a purely sentimental link because Fort Williams was the first fort I visited and fell in love with. Although many of the gun positions have been buried and most of the buildings torn down, Fort Williams is still a beautiful place to visit with an unrivaled ocean view. Please take a look at these images of the Goddard Mansion and Battery Keyes.

New Hampshire

Blockhouse at Fort McClary, Kittery, Maine.
(Click Image for Larger View.)

Fort McClary is located in Kittery, Maine and defended Portsmouth, New Hampshire from colonial times until the Spanish American War. There's no website but we do have a good photograph taken in the late 1800's showing the fort's block house with three 15-inch Rodmans and two 10-inch Parrott rifles. Satellite Image courtesy of

Fort Constitution is located on New Castle Island near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It has been an active United States military installation since the 1790's. (After World War Two it was given by the Army to the Coast Guard.) This Article is a detailed history of the fort written by the Army Corps of Engineers and has a lot of information to compensate for its lack of asthetic appeal. More about the military history of Portsmouth can be found HERE. Satellite Image of Fort Consitution.

For an indepth study of the defenses of Portsmouth in World War Two the viewer is refered to The World, Portsmouth and the 22nd Coast Artillery by Jack P. Wysong published by Pictoral Histories Publishing Company in 1997.


Aerial Photo of Fort Pickering in Salem.

Quarters at Fort Sewall, Marblehead, Massachusetts

Fort Sewall is in the beautiful seaside community of Marblehead. The fort has been on that site for over 250 years and helped shelter the famous frigate Constitution and was a prime viewing place for her historic sail in 1997. Aerial Photograph.

Interior View of Fort Independence

Fort Independence is located on Castle Island in Boston, Massachusetts. The site has been fortified since Colonial times and Fort Independence is one of the best preserved 3rd System forts in the country. This Architect's Restoration Report features two excellent photographs. Aerial Photograph.

Fort Warren, Boston Harbor

Fort Warren is the second largest fort in New England. It served as a prison during the Civil War and has a resident ghost. Aerial Photograph.

Professional Photographs of Fort Warren

Aerial Photograph of Fort Warren.

CSN Prisoners at Fort Warren

10-Inch Gun at Fort Standish, Boston Harbor, Circa 1918

Boston Harbor Islands In addition of Forts Warren and Independence several Endicott period forts were built to protect Boston Harbor from 1890 to 1910. Some of these forts were built on islands near the entrance to the harbor and have recently been redeveloped as public recreation areas. If your visiting Boston and want to do something different why not visit the fortified island of your choice? Also check out Friends of Boston Harbor Islands.

Panoramic Map of Boston Harbor circa 1905 While the visual details on this map are not accurate the locations of all of Boston's Endicott period forts are. Lots of fun for a "cartoholic".

Fort Pheonix Pictures Has images of Fort Pheonix, a fort dating from the early 1800's in Fairhaven.

Fort Taber Also known as Fort Rodman, Fort Taber is located in New Bedford and is in need of restoration and being made accessible to the public. The website features and excellent photo archives. Aerial Photograph.

Rhode Island

Forts of Narragansett Bay Courtesy of Pete Payette.

Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island circa 1970's.

Fort Adams Trust Official homepage of the organization charged with preserving and restoring Fort Adams.

Unofficial Fort Adams Website Contains many links to information about Fort Adams.

David Mann's Fort Adams Website Highly recommended. Loaded with information and images. Find out why Fort Adams is America's best fort!

Dan Titus is a great fort buff and has numerous historic photos on his website of Fort Adams and related subjects.

The History of Fort Adams. A detailed history of the great fort. Heavy graphic content. Text Only Version for faster downloading and printing.

Fort Wolcott Learn about Newport's forgotten fort.

The Artillery Company of Newport, the oldest continously chartered militia unit in the United States, was founded in 1741. It garrisoned local coastal fortifications in the War of 1812, the Civil War and the Spanish American War.

History of Fort Wetherill Built at the turn of the century, Fort Wetherill supplemented Fort Adams in defending Narragansett Bay in both world wars. Today Fort Wetherill's massive (though decayed) gun emplacements can be seen by the public in a beautiful natural setting. Satellite Image courtesy of Terraserver.

Fort Ninigret in Charlestown, RI is a small square bastioned fort. It was probably built by Dutch Traders in the early 1600's. It is one of the oldest forts in North America whose original layout is still plainly visible. Satellite Image.


Fort Griswold is in Groton, Connecticut and was captured by the British during the American Revolution and is one of the best preserved 18th Century forts in the country. The website features a photo tour of the fort. There is also an On-line History of the Battle of Groton Heights. The Bill Memorial Library page also has several good images of Fort Griswold. Aerial Photo.

Fort Griswold Links -

Photos of Living History Events at Fort Griswold

List of Defenders of Fort Griswold Photo Tour of Fort Griswold

Fort Trumbull, New London, Connecticut

Fort Trumbull was established during the American Revolution with the current fort dating from the early 1800's. It was an active Army post until the early 20th Century. The fort served as the United States Coast Guard Academy from 1910 until 1932. During the second world war the fort was the site of a merchant marine officer's academy (actor Jack Lord being the most noteworthy graduate). The fort was then became the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory and then, until about 1995, as a facility of the the Naval Underwater Systems Center (NUSC). Fort Trumbull has been recently redeveloped into a state park and it is open to the public. Satellite Image.

Fort H.G. Wright, Fisher's Island, New York

Related Sites

Back to Center for Fort Preservation and Tourism

North American Forts has concise details about almost every fort in North America.

Artillery in New England Contains a listing of Artillery Pieces on Public Display in New England.

John Mead Gould's Homepage

American Coast Artillery Bibliography Courtesy of the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Use YAHOO! and Alta Vista to find other fort related sites.

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