Monday, June 12, 2017

Fort Worden

I recently took a cruise to Alaska but before that we spent a few days in the Seattle area.  In the 1890s the army built a series of coastal forts, country wide, but there were many in the Puget Sound area.  It appears that many of these still exist to some degree and we decided to tour one, Fort Worden near Port Townsend.  It was very neat and I would like to visit some of the other ones on future visits.  Also Fort Worden was the scene for much of the filming of "An Officer and a Gentleman" which if I ever seen it I do not remember it, however there were ladies there who apparently came to Fort Worden because of this.

The Fort was active during both World Wars but saw no combat obviously.  Half the guns were sent to Europe during WWI so clearly they were not too concerned at a certain point about possible invasion.  Of course Fort Worden has its Civil War connections.  The fort is named for the first commander of the USS Monitor, Admiral John Worden.  Most of the batteries in the fort are named for Civil War soldiers, though generally for more minor characters.

Here is part of the parade ground.  The house hidden in the trees on the far left is the post commander's house and can be toured.  It is decorated for the Victorian era.  We did not tour it, there is only so much I can force on my wife.  She was very understanding in letting me spend half a day here as it was.  There is a small gift shop and in a second building a museum for the coastal artillery.  Both of those buildings are behind me in the above picture.

I thought the coastal artillery museum was quite nice.  This is not my area of expertise and I thought it did a good job explaining how the fort operated.

This shows the forts protecting Puget Sound.  Fort Worden is the fort in the bottom right side with the best views out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

These rings were part of the submarine netting.  I had never seen these before so this was cool and unique, though maybe with more touring of museums of this era this isn't as unique as I think.

Patches for units of the coastal artillery.

This is actually a case that was mounted in a corner.  It has samples of friendly and enemy ships to train soldiers on silhouettes so they know what ship belongs to what side.

There were quite a lot of guns.  Supposedly these were all examples of guns that were at one time issued at the fort.  I have my doubts as we'll get to.

My doubts about these being issued is that the gun on the lower left of this display in an 1861 Springfield.  Maybe there was some sort of use for that in 1897 when the fort was built but it seems way out of place, though another cool Civil War connection.

There were a pair of flags.

A model of the disappearing guns that many of the batteries had.  Firing the gun forced it into a lower position.  It could then be loaded and pivoted out of sight of the enemy.  Then it would pop back up, take the quick shot and be hidden again.  Beautiful idea.

A giant shell outside of the museum.

View along the trail inside the ring of batteries.  I am standing at Battery Randol, named for a brevet brigadier general.  Next in line would be Battery Quarles, this time named for a captain who died in the Mexican War at Churubusco.  Far away is Battery Ash named for a lieutenant colonel who was killed in action at Todd's Tavern on May 8, 1864.

The trail curves to the left and ends at Battery Benson, a captain killed in action in Virginia on August 11, 1862. 

View of the firing deck.  These four batteries had 9 guns.

Here it was finally possible to spot the ocean, too many trees in the other areas.

There were some other batteries we didn't venture too but those four batteries formed the main line on Artillery Hill.  Behind that line was two more batteries that each deployed 8 mortars, Batteries Brannan and Powell.  Brannan was a general throughout the Civil War and is fairly well known as far as these soldiers go.  Powell was named for the major of the 25th Missouri who was killed at Shiloh.  I'm surprised it wasn't for John Wesley Powell who was a captain of artillery at Shiloh, was wounded there and then did great service in the west as part of the US Geological Survey.  But a Shiloh connection is cool.  Major Powell led the recon party that started the battle of Shiloh.  This is Battery Powell.  I don't have a picture of Brannan but it looks the exact same.

Another aspect that I couldn't adequately photograph is that there are an immense number of tunnels connecting these batteries.  Some of them were powder rooms and the like.  But you can wander through all of them, though you should bring a good flashlight.  I used the light on my phone which worked well but a real flashlight would have been more handy.  My wife really enjoyed the exploration nature of our visit.  On the cruise I tried to get pictures of the fort from sea but there was just enough haze to prevent a good shot.

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