Fort Whitman on Goat Island CDSG-2010

Visited 14 Apr 2010Fort Whitman (1909-1947) is one of those really hard places to get to on your own. The remains of the Endicott Period fort are on Goat Island in Skagit Bay, Washington. The fort was built to protect a back door entry to Puget Sound via Deception Pass and the Saratoga Passage and is now part of the Skagit Wildlife Area. This visit was a part of the Coast Defense Study Group (CDSG) 2010 Conference at Fort Worden.

Landing at Fort Whitman

Landing at Fort Whitman

The only way to get to Fort Whitman is by boat and once there you must climb an 80′ bluff to get to the the site. Back-in-the-day access was provided by a steam tramway from a wharf built out into the bay. Today, there is no trace of the tramway and all that remains of the wharf are a series of rotted out pilings. You must now land on the narrow beach and climb up a steep trail to the top of the bluff.

The Trail up to Fort Whitman

The Trail up to Fort Whitman

Luckily, our CDSG hosts had made all the arrangements and strung the steep path with ropes so we could make our way to the top. I was a part of the afternoon landing party and the boat trip out was great, with sunshine all the way.

The trip up the bluff went fine and we found ourselves at Battery Harrison which had been cleaned up by the CDSG volunteers and looked pretty good.

Battery Harrison Magazine

Battery Harrison Magazine

The battery was the only concrete Endicott Period battery built on the Island. It was a four gun 6″ disappearing gun battery on a single level built from a standard design. The only other structures remaining are a latrine in back of the battery and a mine control and observation post some 800′ to the southwest of the battery. Battery Harrison was in far better shape than I expected and it had only limited grafitti.

Battery Harrison Gun Emplacement #4

There was a lot of moss on the gun platforms and everything has a green tinge to it. The mine control and observation post was overgrown but still accessible. The metal roof was gone in places but the walls were built with thick concrete and remain intact. There were few signs of the other buildings that had been on the island. We did find the foundation of the Radio Station and some odd bits of metal but no trace of the temporary WWII buildings.

Fort Whitman Mine Control and Observation Post

Fort Whitman Mine Control and Observation Post

We finished up our explorations and photos and headed back down the trail to the boat. The trip down was a bit more hazardous than the trip up and we did have one member slip off the trail. Everyone did make it back to the boat OK and the trip back was just as enjoyable as the trip out. The trip was a great success due to the preparation work done by our hosts, hats off to our CDSG hosts for a great job.

John

Posted under Batteries, Forts