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Cape Coral, Florida, United States

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Visit to Kittery Point, Maine

View From Kittery Point Looking Toward Portsmouth Harbor

Cross the bridge over the Pistaqua River separating New Hampshire from Maine and proceed a short way and you'll see the sign off Route 1 for Kittery Point, Maine.  Settled back in 1632, fishermen, hunters and trappers were the first residents of these parts.  Along the coastline stands Fort McClary used as a defensive fortification in the 19th Century guarding the entrance to the Pistaqua River.   The fort is named after Major Andrew McClary of New Hampshire. He was the highest ranking officer
killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Today, a blockhouse, walls, earthen works and remnants of other buildings along with the tunnel system remain as reminders of what is was like for the young American nation to stand guard against invasion.  That invasion took place in 1812  when once again the United States was at war with England.  The fort was manned for five different war periods:  The Revolutionary War, War of 1812, American Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I.
Today the blockhouse (built in 1844) and remnants of the walls stand at the site.  It is an ideal spot for a day trip with great vistas of the Portsmouth Harbor area.  There are numerous granite blocks in different piles leftover remnants of construction that was never finished. Construction was halted in the late 1800's when the rise of superior naval firepower made these coastal fortifications rather obsolete.  You can also visit the former powder magazine and underground bastion that housed large cannons aimed toward the entrance of the harbor. 
Your journey begins at a tunnel entrance with a series of steps guiding one down into the bastion.  Walking straight ahead you will encounter the outer wall with the gun ports still visible.  It is a dank and wet place and makes one wonder how large 250 pound cannons were hauled down into the emplacement.  Once outside you can walk over the emplacement and enjoy the view of Portsmouth Harbor and even see a myriad of commercial fishing boats, sailing vessels and even a tour boat pass by.  On the far shore you will see the local lighthouse and further south lies the Portsmouth Naval Yard the new outpost guarding our shores in the 21st Century - instead of 250 pound guns you will see nuclear submarines moored for retrofit or repair. 

The blockhouse is also an interesting museum with artifacts and history of life at the fort providing a glimpse into the past.  There are additional buildings in and around the blockhouse area.  Once you are done doing the historical gig head into the town of Kittery Point - it is a well preserved period town with a quaint smattering of period buildings and colonial homes.  You will also see a few lobster places selling fresh lobster right off the boat, bring a few home to prepare for your own lobster feast.  Why did I go back to Kittery Point after all these years?  Well many years ago when Chris was about 10 and Matt around 4 we brought the boys to Kittery Point and they loved exploring the fort and I remember Chris climbing on those rocks.  Besides the period history I had some personal history enshrined in this place.  While shooting away with my Nikon I could still see Chris and Matt running around the place.  Great memories which I will treasure forever. 

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