Article by Wyatt Martin
On the northeast side of Port Townsend, WA lies Fort Worden State Park. The 434-acre multi-purpose park still maintains the 19th century military fort that was originally designed as the last defense to the Puget Sound. The park has a wide variety of historical monuments to explore as well as a number of outdoor activities. A museum, lighthouse, and the famed Battery Kinzie are among the many attractions that draw visitors throughout the year.
Fort Worden was established in the late 1890’s as one of the first posts to guard the nautical entrance to the Puget Sound. Named after Rear Admiral John L. Worden, who served as a US Naval Officer in the Civil War, the fort’s construction began in 1897 and continued until its closure in 1953. The Army’s 126th Coast Artillery Company manned the post during its 51 years of active operation. They were considered to be one of the most technologically advanced units in the United States Army at the time. Visitors are still able to see the 100-year old Victorian parlors, dinning hall and cavernous dormitories where soldiers bunked while stationed there.
The park is home to the Coast Artillery Museum which preserves and displays artillery artifacts that were used between the late 1800’s and the end of WWII. Visitors can also take a look at the 3D, scale model of Kinzie, the fort’s most famous and technologically advanced battery.
Battery Kinzie is located on the northeast corner of the fort, near the tip of Point Wilson. The concrete battery was completed in 1910 and was in use until it was dismantled in 1944, near the end of the second World War. Built with two 12-inch M1895MI guns, the total cost of construction was $207,832.50. The battery incorporated a loading system which used electric hoists to lift the 1,000-pound shells and 300-pounds of gunpowder required to fire them. It was one of the most advanced batteries designed during the time period and was the last battery to be added to the fort.
Located 500 yards northeast of Battery Kinzie is the Point Wilson lighthouse. The lighthouse has been in use since it’s construction in 1913, but is currently being transitioned from the Coast Guard to the park because it’s no longer needed for navigation. The light is still operational and transmits its beam for up to 16 miles from a 1,000 watt bulb. Prior to electricity, three gallons of oil were burned each night to keep the oil lamp lit. The lighthouse closed to the public in 1976 when it became fully automated, but tours are still available on Saturdays from May through September.