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There are so many memorable activities and areas to explore throughout Maine, no matter what time of year you visit. Planning a summer excursion? For outdoorsy types and history buffs, there’s one place you should absolutely include on your vacation itinerary: Fort McClary State Historic Site.
The opportunities to explore Maine’s rich history are bountiful. Fort McClary State Park is a great place to start learning about the state’s storied past while enjoying some incredible sights and quality time in the great outdoors.
History of Fort McClary State Historic Site
Like many historic sites, Fort McClary State Historic Site was named after a military major who was well respected in his day. This military major was Major Andrew McClary, who fought and died during the historic Battle of Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary War.
Soon after the war, a fort was built at Kittery’s southern gateway along the Piscataqua River to protect this area of Maine and represent expanding military technology at the time.
Today, the structures that stand on these grounds are the Granite Wall and the Blockhouse, which were additions to the greater fort structure built in the early nineteenth century.
The Blockhouse is historically significant for its unique design and its long construction process. The foundation is made of mortared fieldstone, while the walls of the first story are cut granite, and the second story is made of squared logs.
The Granite Wall surrounding the Blockhouse represents military plans to modify and enhance the fort during the early years of the Civil War, a plan that included the addition of cannons. However, increasing technology at the time made this structure obsolete for wartime purposes, so the final plans were never completed.
Though Fort McClary, Maine, was never the site of a battle, it was used for a variety of purposes during multiple significant conflicts, including the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and even World War I. It’s clear to see that there is a great deal of history contained within its walls.
Things to Know Before Visiting Fort McClary, Maine
Fort McClary State Historic Site is a great place to visit for individuals and families of all sizes due to the fact that the hike itself to the structures is a relatively easy endeavor.
The terrain is mostly flat forest trails with some gravel and crushed stone as you get closer to the Granite Wall and the Blockhouse.
Guests to Fort McClary, Maine, are asked to stay on the designated trails to help preserve the area’s history and to avoid any potential hazards. Families are welcome, and the park features a playground as well as a pond that can be used for ice skating during the winter.
When Can I Visit Fort McClary State Park?
Fort McClary State Historic Site is open from 10 a.m. to sundown every day between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, as this is the most weather-permitting time of year to visit. If you’d like to plan a special event, the park contains a sheltered area that is available for reservations and can host small groups.
Things to Do Near Fort McClary State Park
Looking for some refreshment after exploring Fort McClary State Historic Site? There are multiple local spots that you can visit nearby for a bite to eat, a cold beverage, or a tasty treat, including Allagash Brewing Company, Pear’s Ice Cream and Hoagies, and Side by Each Brewing Co.
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