Visited 26 Jun 2009 – Battery O’Flyng was the first battery I visited after arranging for clearance to visit the two Fort Canby batteries that were on Coast Guard property. Clearance was relatively easy to get and the Coast Guard does not mind civilians visiting the old batteries so long as you call ahead and ask them. Battery O’Flyng is located beyond the entrance gate of Cape Disappointment Station. When I arrived at the gate I pressed the intercom button announcing my arrival. I was given instructions to the office and the gate was opened. After arriving at the office building I signed the visitor’s book, presented my identification, and was assigned an escort on my visit to the battery.
Battery O’Flyng is a concrete Endicott period rifle battery that was part of the Columbia River Harbor Defense Project. It is on the Washington side of the Columbia River located at Fort Canby. It is the only Fort Canby battery that faces out towards the Columbia River mouth. It was armed with two Model 1905 6-inch rifles on M1903 disappearing carriages. The battery was activated in 1906 and in in 1918, the battery was deactivated and the guns were moved to Battery Allen. The carriages were sold and removed the same year.
The path to the battery was basically a pair of deeply grooved tire tracks because the Coast Guard drives on it. The hike was a quarter of a mile long but exhausting because of the steep incline in most places. I did manage it without too much difficulty, just a break here and there. It is interesting to note that the battery is in an area that is considered a live firing range with a sign at the beginning of the trail to remind us of that fact.
Upon arrival of the battery I was amazed that the overgrowth was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I could easily make out the battery despite the overgrowth. Granted some of the areas were overgrown more than others but the only place I could not access because of severe overgrowth was the observing station. Overall the exterior of the battery I would consider in excellent shape considering that it has not been maintained at all for 91 years. All it really needs is a pruning here and there, a lot of weed whacking, plus some Roundup and Moss Killer for good measure. Structurally there is no concrete deterioration to speak of, just some small chunks of concrete missing here and there.
The inside of the battery was just plain outstanding. All the rooms were dry and empty, and no concrete deterioration to be examined. However in the Guard Room there was a significant chunk of concrete missing from the top of a alcove but no rebar was exposed. There is some clutter in the rooms. Some period wiring and ceiling lighting fixtures remain in the shell and powder rooms. There was some graffiti scratched in the guard room, office, and store rooms which I found surprising given the restricted access but it was not anything serious.
I would like to thank the personnel at Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station and a personal thanks to Petty Officer Barnes, my escort. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to visit Battery O’Flyng and it was such a treat to visit a battery that is not visited often.
This post was written by John Stanton on June 29, 2009