Fort Knox, KY is more famous than the first Fort Knox, which is in Prospect, Maine. This fort is considered a state park and we were lucky it would be open during the federal Government shutdown. I had decided that we should visit this place though we were on a fall trip. The photos of the fort I saw on the internet was just staggering. Moreover, it was about 20 miles south of Bangor; we would be knocking off 5 miles off that 20 if we headed to the airport after the visit. The fort was conceived as needed after the American Revolution and the war of 1812 brought enemy British ships to the Penobscot river. The vulnerability of the northern prospering towns of Bangor and its neighbor exposed the treat. But it wasn’t funded until 1825. The cost of construction is estimated to be a million dollars. Writing doesn’t do justice to the construction. The massive 20+ foot stone walls were impregnable and daunting enough that there was never a threat to the surrounding towns nor did enemy ships ever appeared on the Penobscot rivers. The fort’s two levels had mounts for 135 cannons, some of which were capable of hurling 450 pound cannonball to a distance of 5579 yards!! These cannonballs were heated red-hot before being mounted in the guns and 100 pounds of gunpowder was needed to blast each of the cannonballs.
But the firepower is a tiny part of the fort’s construction itself. There are stone blocks as large a 5 x 2 x 2 feet if not bigger. It is a testament to what man can do collectively. The fort sits on the banks of the river overlooking the town of Prospect. The fort is in the shape of a Pentagon much like the defense headquarters in DC.
Getting to the fort is via the Penobscot Narrows Bridge which has an observation tower that sits 421 feet high and provides spectacular views of the surrounding land and water. The bridge itself is a marvel of construction engineering and is seen to be believed. Once you ascend to the observation point via the elevator that goes up at 10.5 mph(!), you are within a glass shielded watch area. I wish we had access to the outside so the photos could have a clear shot of the surrounding without having to deal with the reflections in the glass and also catch the air at that height. The observation deck on the CN tower in Toronto has a deck that allows access to the top while shielding the watchers from any fear of a fall with the steel mesh.