Fort Stevens, Oregon


After leaving Fort Clatsop, my next destination was Fort Stevens, about four miles to the west if I could fly.  I arrived at Fort Stevens State Park around 11:00 am, and put my $5 in the machine for a day pass.

Construction of the “Fort at Point Adams” commenced in 1863, during the American Civil War.  Two years later it was named Fort Stevens, honoring General Isaac Stevens, who died in the Battle of Chantilly.  He had previously been the first Governor of Washington Territory.  This was the first, and largest, of three coastal artillery forts built around the mouth of the Columbia River.  Over the next eighty-four years, a series of gun batteries were built, maintained, modified, then abandoned as technology and strategy changed.  The post was decommissioned in 1947, following World War II.

Civil War Era

The post began with a nine-sided earthwork fortification and a few buildings surrounded by a moat, completed in 1865.  The twenty-six guns included eight 200-pounder Parrot Rifles like the replica shown below, with a range of over two miles.  One disadvantage was that the guns were mounted on top of the earthworks, and were loaded from the muzzle, exposing both the guns and the soldiers to enemy fire.  The earthworks were leveled in 1940 for a parade ground, and are being reconstructed.

Endicott Period

From 1897 to 1904, the fort underwent a major expansion and re-armament.  Several new concrete batteries and command posts were constructed, including Battery Pratt (two 6-inch guns), the West Battery (six 10-inch guns), and Battery Russell (two 10-inch guns).  The gun pairs of the long West Battery were later separately identified as Battery Lewis, Battery Walker, and Battery Mishler (the latter with unique 360-degree fields of fire to cover both the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean).

Although the batteries were now concrete, they still had earthwork berms on the seaward side, or were dug in below the existing groundplane.