April 21, 2018
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‘Fright’ funding Fort Knox wall repairs

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

PROSPECT, Maine — Construction crews have torn down a section of granite wall at the Fort Knox Historical Site and are in the process of reconstructing the wall.

The project focuses on a section of a retaining wall near Battery B, below the main fort, that was in need of repair.

“There was an erosion problem and one section of the wall was listing precariously,” said Leon Seymour, executive director of the Friends of Fort Knox Friends of Fort Knox, which is funding the repair project.

The wall was leaning so badly, Seymour said, that the state Bureau of Public Lands, which oversees the overall operation of the fort, roped off the area in order to keep visitors away.

The repairs target the Battery B retaining wall and the wall of an adjacent demibastion, a defensive feature on the fort that allowed troops to retreat through a passageway up to the main fort.

Heavy rains this week have delayed the project, but Seymour said crews were close to completing the work there.

According to Seymour, crews from Lane Construction took down the wall, labeling each large granite piece so it could be reconstructed exactly. They installed crushed stone behind the wall to improve drainage around the wall.

During that process, Seymour said, they uncovered an original granite drain at the base of the wall that had been covered with soil and was not functioning.

“I’ve been told that the last time this wall was repaired was in the 1950s,” he said. “It’s quite likely that the drain was covered up at that time.”

Workers have dug a trench from the granite drain leading to the river and installed a perforated pipe to direct water away from the wall.

Crews also unearthed what appears to be a large iron anchor inserted into a granite block. The anchor may have been used to support a steam derrick at some point during construction of the fort.

The granite blocks used to construct the fort were brought to the site down the Penobscot River and unloaded at the wharf area near Battery B.

According to Mike Wilusz, manager of the fort, there are some wooden remnants of a large derrick that stick out of the pier itself.

“They had some pretty heavy rigging down there,” Wilusz said. “That wall would have been a good stabilizer.”

The project also will involve repairs to the wharf in order to stabilize it and work on the access road leading to the Battery B area to stabilize it and limit future erosion problems.

The repairs, estimated to cost $39,000, are being funded from proceeds from the Friends of Fort Knox annual Fright at the Fort Halloween event.

Fright at the Fort will continue for its second weekend, 5:30-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29 and 30. For event details, visit the Friends’ website at http://fortknox.maineguide.com.

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