After failing to find my fall foliage up Mount Battie I continued my journey onward hoping to reach Acadia and go up Cadillac Mountain to see if their foliage was any better, but first I wanted to stop off in Bucksport for some local folklore. So how then did I end up at Fort Knox which wasn’t even on my list? Distraction. That’s how. I saw a sign on the way stating, “Fort Knox, three miles thattta way!” and well… I cancelled my GPS route and the rest is history.
I had been to Fort Knox when I was a tween, several life times ago, and I remember I liked going but not anything I had seen. I just had a vague memory of it being really dark. When I drove in the toll gate operator asked if I wanted to buy a ticket to the observatory for two extra dollars. I was unaware there was an observatory but for two bucks how can you go wrong? She was super excited I sprang for the extra two dollars, far more so than I would expect someone to be… but hey, if I can make someone that happy that easy it’s all good!
I realized when I got there that this was a strange destination for a single woman with no children or military background to go. There were plenty of other people here but most were families or couples and a few single old men who were clearly military buffs at the very least. They gave me a couple odd looks but the staff seemed thrilled to see me so I was content.
I walked around the fort and of course being me I found the dankest hole I could and started there. It was the entrance to the B Battery. I started descending the stairs into a dark brick pit going down, down, down. All of a sudden I felt intensely anxious. It wasn’t pitch black, I could still see, and there was nowhere to hide on the staircase so it’s not as if someone could jump out at me but that’s exactly how I felt. So I did what I always do in this situation. I started talking to the walls. “Heeeeeey, I can sense someone’s here… just wanted to let you know I am not here to disturb anything. Just walking through, taking a few photos, don’t want to bother you but I hope you can forgive my trespass..” Immediately the feeling lifted. You can blame this on psychology or ghosts, I don’t care, I just know it made me more at ease.
After that initial oddness the fort proved to be a fascinating and completely disorienting maze of brick archways and darkened chambers. I didn’t have a flashlight but I am assuming there was nothing in there, maybe a Halloween prop or two. The staff had clearly got their giggles earlier when they spread zombie baby dolls and alien corpses intermittently through out – either in honor of Halloween or to illustrate a forgotten conspiratorial history. Still haven’t figured out if the cockroaches and spiders painted onto a display bed’s canopy was for Halloween or some sort of trite commentary on the state of things back in the day.
Anyway, I was very much alone through most of this tour of lower buildings. Fort Knox is huuuuuuge, utterly enormous, probably the closest thing I can think of to a castle the states has to offer. However very little is marked. On these lower levels I was hard up to find any plaques or explanations, nothing. Occasionally you’ll see label. One such label was “hot furnace” for a strange outside structure. Later I learned that “hot furnaces” were implements of mass destruction. Apparently lobbing cannon balls at invading ships was not sufficient so they started throwing the cannon balls into the furnace, heating them up until they glowed red, and then lobbing them at the enemy. Wooden ships would not only suffer catastrophic holes but also would immediately start bursting into flames from the heat of these cannons. Terrifying thought. Brutal. Gruesome. Perfect for Haunted History…
Took me forever to figure out how to get back up. From what I could gather there seemed to be three, maybe four levels of fort to explore. I went through batteries, powder magazines, a crude kitchen, some barracks. I marveled at some cannons still on the property that were so enormous they took twelve men to maneuver. This fort wasn’t fucking around!
I was struck by the architecture. And the feel of the place… sometimes eerie, other times placid and calm. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit spending more than two hours scuttling around like a half-drown ship rat. I even took what I think is my best marble photo to date. I have no idea how I had forgotten so much of this place. I guess kids being kids they don’t remember a goddamn thing you do for them anyway… “Remember that time we went to Disney?” “I remember that damn mouse that made me cry.” “That’s ALL you remember? We spent thousands on that vacation!” I have heard that conversation so many times I wish I could collect change on it. Ah well, c’est la vie.
This was a great distraction – totally worth the detour. I would even go again if someone else wanted to see it.