FORT GORGES, MAINE
by Caroline Garfield
Stepping atop the granite boulders, I land on the place most only see from afar. The place that looks as though a chunk of earth was birthed from the deep sea.
A jungle afloat the middle of
The fortress walls tower upwards, waves crash against them. Portland feels like a world away. Inside,
dark winding tunnels are shrouded with icicles of minerals drip dripping water, echoing through the now
Sounds seemingly imported
From a cave tucked deep
into a mountain.
Thirty-four colossal guns once resided here, prepared to protect Portland against threatening naval powers.
Five hundred men were required to man these guns. Time was no match for Fort Gorges, though.
Construction started in 1858, yet by her completion in 1864, she was obsolete. Artillery technology advanced faster than construction. The rooms made to house five hundred remain empty indefinitely. No troops were ever garrisoned there.
It was not until 1916 that she was inhabited. Charles Rust and his family lived there, taking care of the little
island fort. A granddaughter was born there; life was abundant for a few years. With time, the family moved
away and Fort Gorges was empty once again.
The government deemed the fort surplus soon after, and it was adopted by the city of Portland. But there was no money to support it, no function for it to perform, and nobody who could care for it.
She has since fallen into disrepair and deemed a “Place in Peril” by the local historic preservation advocates.
ENTER AND USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
FALL HAZARDS EXIST ON SITE.
DO NOT LEAVE MINORS UNATTENDED.
CARRY OUT ALL RUBBISH.
NO TOILET FACILITIES.
- CITY OF PORTLAND, MAINE
The beauty lies in the abandonment, the silence, the serenity. Though she is falling apart, there is a sense of
freedom while I am there. No tourists, no designated paths. Just freedom to explore—
Until the tickets come.
Until the fences come.
Until a new life