Fort Columbia, Washington


After visiting Fort Clatsop, Fort Stevens, and Cape Disappointment, I arrived at Fort Columbia around 4:30 pm.

Fort Columbia was the last coastal artillery installation built at the mouth of the Columbia River.  Fort Canby at Cape Disappointment and Fort Stevens across the river at Point Adams both commenced during the American Civil War.  During the Endicott Period around the turn of the century, both forts were upgraded and the new position of Fort Columbia was added, beginning in 1896.  Three batteries were built between 1896 and 1900; Battery Ord, Battery Murphy, and Battery Crenshaw.  Several buildings remain of the garrison housing and other support spaces.

Battery Ord

Battery Ord was the first active emplacement at Fort Columbia, with three 8-inch disappearing rifles.  The guns were sent to France during World War I.  Drainage problems caused the separate third gun position to be condemned and buried.

Battery Murphy

Battery Murphy had two 6-inch disappearing rifles.  It saw the most use of the batteries at Fort Columbia, fired for practice drills over a 45-year period.

Battery Crenshaw

Battery Crenshaw had three 3-inch rapid-fire rifles on parapet mounts, intended to protect the Columbia River minefield along with the similar Battery Smur at Fort Stevens.  It was deactivated in 1920.

Battery 246

During World War II, the coastal artillery posts were upgraded.  Battery 245 was built at Fort Stevens, Battery 246 at Fort Columbia, and Battery 247 at Fort Canby.  Battery 246 was still under construction when the war ended.  The two external swiveling guns were never installed, and Fort Columbia was decommissioned in 1947.

In 1993, the Washington State Park Service was able to transfer two identical guns from a U.S. Navy facility in Newfoundland.  They are two of only six that remain in the world.  The 6-inch guns could fire a 105-pound shell over fifteen miles, up to five rounds per minute.  A thick shield open at the back, called a barbette, protected the gun crew.


After a look at Fort Columbia, I began the journey back home to Portland.