Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fort Mott Photos/History And Floaty Checks In...

I was going through some of my pictures on my laptop this morning.

It has been quite the trip this time around and I have the pictures to prove it.

Some of the folders were pictures I had taken for the purpose of posting here. Most of those made it on to the blog. Others had not.

One group made it in a partial fashion after I'd decided to take up a different tack with the blog.

The folder dedicated to "Fort Mott" was one of those.

One more photo based blog. I promise I'll be getting back to commentary soon.

Fort Mott is located in my hometown of Pennsville, New Jersey. Given the width of the Delaware River, cannon technology of the day, and the need to defend the ports of Wilmington, DE, Camden, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and the capital city of Trenton, NJ, the federal government authorized the construction of of the fort after the Civil War.

Construction stopped in 1876.

In the mid to late 1880's, a review of the military's ability to defend the U.S. coastline was headed by Secretary of War William Endicott, construction of coastal defenses began anew on what would become known as the "Endicott Fort System". Fort Mott was a part of that system.

For my southern friends, if you've ever been inside Fort Sumter, that glaring concrete structure inside the old walls of the fort is part of this program as well.

While it looked good on paper, technological advances in gunnery and ships soon rendered the system outdated fairly quickly.

Fort Mott was active from 1897 to 1922, with a caretaking attachment stationed there from 1922 to 1943.

Like most of the coastal defenses, she never fired a shot in defense of the country.

By the time our family moved from northeastern Maryland to South Jersey, the Fort had been property of the State of New Jersey for 21 years. For us it wasn't a historical site, it was home to the only hills locally we could sled down in Winter.

It was also fairly open. We went all over and inside that place over the years growing up.

It also served a place where teenagers would go hang out and do what teen aged boys and girls did when left to their devices.

Eventually, the State realised that they had quite a bit of liability exposure on the property, and tightened up security.

Nowadays most of the batteries and buildings are secured. There has been some long overdue and necessary preservation as well. Not enough mind you, but with the economy the way it is, you take what you can get.

One fine Sunday morning, after visiting my late parents' and brother's graves, I stopped by to take some shots of the old fort.

Hope you like them.

Looking back across the parade grounds at the Commander's House, Officer's Quarters, and Battery Control Station #1.

Battery Gregg is the first of the fortifications. It housed two "rapid fire" five inch guns.

One of the two gun mounts.

The Battery Commander's Station.

The view from inside.

Next in line are Battery Harker and Battery Arnold. They both comprise the big gun emplacements.

The view of Battery Harker/Battery Arnold from atop Battery Gregg. The earthenworks sure seemed a lot higher when I was a child.

The view from behind Battery Harker. The iron stairs are still in relatively good shape, but the ironwork for the walkways and planks are long since gone.

Black powder was stored under and behind the gun mounts.

Hoists like this were directly below the gun mounts and used to bring the bags of black powder and artillery shells up to the gunnery crews.

One of the gun mounts from Battery Harker.

The Delaware River from atop Battery Harker, Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island in the distance.

Same vantage point, with some zoom lens added.

Midpoint on the ramparts.

Looking back at one of the Battery Arnold gun mounts.

Continuing past the Battery Harker/Battery Arnold emplacements, Battery Edwards and Battery Krayenbuhl are next. Once again, these were smaller guns designed for rapid fire.

Gun mount at Battery Edwards.

Just like at Battery Gregg, the Battery Commander's Station and Battery Control Station #2.

A closer view of Fort Delaware from Battery Edwards.

As children we just "KNEW" that this structure was a secret, underwater tunnel to Fort Delaware. It is, in fact, an early magazine.

Unfortunately, South Jersey was low lying land with really high water tables. Still is. The magazines at the fort proved ill suited to keeping the black powder dry. Another solution had to be found.

This was it. As uninformed little kids, we alays thought this was a rail station at the fort. It turns out it was a raised magazine, set behind the ramparts, built in 1903.

The reason we all thought it was a train station. The tracks were installed to move the black powder to the Batteries.

As is the case with any operation, the behind the scenes work helps ensure success. Communications was one of the keys. This building, located at the northwest end of the Batteries, housed the plotting room and the switchboard room.

A section of the overhead rails used to move shells, etc. from Battery to Battery.

This door leads to ostensibly the site where most of the military history took place at Fort Mott. Behind it are where one of the two original latrines were located. The incoming/outgoing tide carried the waste away.

Today the old Fort serves as a State park. Besides the history, it has picnic facilities, a huge flat expanse of land well suited to flying kites, and a pleasant view of the Delaware River.

Many of the Endicott era forts are long gone. Of those that remain, some are inaccessable.

Fort Mott, though a bit worse for the wear, is still open for those who wish to walk back into history.

It was good to get the chance to go back and do that again.

I've mined the "photo based blog" style enough of late, I now return you to commentary from both myself and the gang over there at Air Traffic Mike Heavy Industries, LLC. (the official social think tank of Air Traffic Mike).

University of Memphis Tiger Basketball is back and so is Floaty the Dead Gator.

"Hi Mike, glad to be back."

Got some news on the Tiger men's program your floatness?

"Remind me, who's your best dead employee?"

You're the carcass, Floaty.


Another season of madness begins.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.