Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fort Mifflin

Posted by Stu On May - 13 - 2010

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Fort Mifflin is a unique and, sadly, little known point of interest in Philadelphia.  It’s right on the Delaware River; it’s actually next to the Philly Airport.  It is a bit of a pain to find, though.  You’re definitely going to want to look this one up first.  There is also a small admission fee; well worth it though.

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The fort’s former hospital, now the ticket & info office.

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Outside the fort’s wall.  Notice the plane coming in.

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All around the fort’s perimeter is very swampy, hence the area’s name of Mud Island.

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The fort was built in 1771 and was used by the military up until 1952.  It served some purpose for every war within that time span.  Although there are several, the two big reasons this fort is so famous come from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
During the Revolution, the British invaded and ultimately captured the city of Philadelphia in 1777.  General Washington used Fort Mifflin as a distraction and ordered it manned until the very last possible moment of escape.  He knew he was outnumbered and under-supplied; fighting full force in Philly would have been suicide.  For five weeks, the British pounded Mifflin, with many of its buildings being reduced to rubble.  The fort’s official website states “It is the site of the largest bombardment the North American continent has ever witnessed.”  Holding Mifflin allowed Washington’s army to escape and flee to Valley Forge; it’s almost certain that if the fort fell sooner, the Revolution would have been much shorter with very different results.
During the Civil War, the fortress was used as a prison for captured Confederates, so it’s no surprise there are ghost stories surrounding the place.  The most famous involves the hanging of William Howe, a Union deserter convicted of murder.  He was held in what is known as Casemate #11.  His signature can still be seen on the wall inside.  He’s said to still haunt the fort, especially the casemate.  When I went, there were actually 2 ghost hunters trying to record voices inside the casemate.
There are, of course, many other supposed ghosts haunting the place.

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Finally heading through the gate…

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Officers’ Quarters & Soldiers’ Barracks

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Quartermaster’s store.  Now a gift shop.  Closed when I went.  I really wanted a magnet :/

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Commandant’s House.  The inside was being restored during my visit…

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Guessing that’s what the place’ll look like after renovation…

Some more outside shots before heading underground to infamous Casemate 11…

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Entrance to Casemate 11

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Some of Howe’s writing.

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End of the casemate.  Imagine this as your prison cell.

Lots of places on the grounds where you can go underground…

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Like I mentioned earlier, the fort served as a prison during the Civil War.  Mister Howe may have gotten special treatment and had his own casemate, but that wasn’t the case for the Confederate prisoners.  6 casemates were used as prison cells.

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The barracks and officers’ buildings serve as a museum, with artifacts, models, and even a small display of photos of TV’s Ghosthunters when they came to visit the fort.

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Ghosthunters stuff

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For admission, hours, directions, and all that jazz, check out Fort Mifflin’s official site.

Popularity: 19% [?]

Fort Knox

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2008

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Fort Knox was constructed beginning in 1844 to help prevent any potential invasions from Britain. This part of Maine was invaded by the British during both the Revolution and the War of 1812, and the area was also open to border disputes between the US and Canada. Much like Forts Armistead and Mott, men were stationed here during the Spanish-American War. Also, much like the aforementioned forts, it never saw battle. Another fine example of a “just in case” fort.

This is the first ever place I’ve been to where bringing a flashlight is actually encouraged.


View of the fort’s front from across the river in Bucksport


View of the fort from atop the Narrows Observatory

All in all, it’s just about the same as every other fort I’ve been to, with the exception that they encourage you to explore it. Just about the entire place is open to visitors, so you can spend a decent amount of time here. And yes, you probably will want a flashlight.


View of Bucksport, across the river.

Popularity: 11% [?]

Fort Armistead

Posted by Stu On April - 26 - 2007

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This place is trashed. It’s like the state said screw it and gave up maintaining the park. There’s tons of spray paint, the iron gates blocking the inside of the fort have all been broken or have had bars removed, there’s trash everywhere, etc…I was told quite a few stories about this Spanish-American War-era fort, and while I don’t normally believe such things, I have to wonder about this place.

Things I heard:

The fort is home to large rats.
A colony of feral cats live there and the homeless take care of them. Homeless people live there too.
Drug use & deals are commonplace.
Prostitutes – most commonly gay men – and their clients meet up there. If you pull in a spot in reverse it means you’re available and looking. Head first means you’re not.

Normally I dismiss such stories as nonsense, the kind of thing certain magazines like to line their pages with because they need content and anyone who has actually bothered to visit such places knows the stories are complete crap. I mean, come on, it’s just a historical city park. How bad could this place be?
But when I pulled up – head first, just to be on the safe side – there was a group of dudes standing on the side of the parking area, and they didn’t take their eyes off me until I took out my camera. Not sure what they were doing there, but they were hanging out the entire time I was there, and once I began walking around the ruins they huddled over by their minivan. Dunno if I stumbled upon some of the fabled fort hookers, a drug deal, or just some other shy tourists, and honestly I’d rather not know.
While I didn’t see any giant rats, we did find a syringe on the ground. On the one side of the fort, along the water, we noticed some tiny shelters with lots of food and water bowls…and then we saw 3 cats. So the feral cat colony story is true at least. And so is the drug one apparently.


Some of the feral cats and their shelters.

Popularity: 49% [?]

Sandy Hook 2006

Posted by Stu On February - 6 - 2006

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2002 Trip / 2004 Trip

Friendly reminder – decent amount of pictures. For you folks with dialup… get broadband already. Seriously. It’s 2006, man.

This trip easily destroyed the 2 previous trips I took to Sandy Hook. This time around we met up with a few forum members, along with some of the fine folks from What’s in the Forest.
We first explored Batteries Mills and Kingman. We then checked out the Nike missile base, followed by a mortar battery.


Batteries Mills and Kingman

Semi-disclaimer – Neither of these are very safe. The floors have several holes, and some of the stuff on the ceiling is barely attached anymore and could come crashing down at any time.

These 2 batteries were almost exactly alike, so I just grouped their photos together.


Can’t get out this way…


One of the many holes. Some are quite deep.


Wasn’t kidding about stuff coming down from the ceiling.


Skeletons of 2……somethings.


Nike Missile Base

One building had a grim surprise for us…..2 dead raccoons that apparently got stuck.


Mortar Battery

Another semi-disclaimer – Lots of asbestos.


Fun with asbestos!

Popularity: 25% [?]

Fort Mott

Posted by Stu On May - 20 - 2004

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Fort Mott was one of 3 forts built along the Delaware after the Civil War. Its construction began in 1872 but stopped in 1876. Only 2 out of 11 gun emplacements were finished. In 1896 more fortifications were added for the Spanish-American War. Troops were stationed there up until 1922.

Popularity: 10% [?]

Sandy Hook 2004

Posted by Stu On February - 6 - 2004

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2002 Trip / 2006 Trip

I’m glad I came back here; we found a lot that I missed on the previous trips. First thing we came across was a battery I didn’t see on my first trip.


Nude beach! w00t!

The Beach Bunkers

We had to hike down the road a bit to get to these. They’re out on their own little peninsula. I don’t know how I overlooked them the last few times.


Those are remains of a dock in the water. Just the posts are left.

Roadside Memorial

This was difficult to read. Some members of the Royal Navy were buried here in 1783.

Popularity: 11% [?]

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