Visited 6 Aug 2010 - Three forts in a day are difficult especially when they are coastal forts with a number of gun batteries. All three of these forts are geographically separated by water. Fort Delaware is only reachable by boat so doing this set of forts in a single day is a real challenge.
We started the day with Fort DuPont at Fort DuPont State Park which is a combination of a state park and the Governor Bacon Health Center. The state park portion encompasses six Endicott Period gun batteries while the Health Center seems to take in most of the garrison area and buildings. It would be difficult to find the Endicott Period batteries if you do not know exactly where they are. It seems that the state park portion is run with the emphasis on the nature preserve, and the Endicott Period batteries are not even identified. The two mortar batteries have been repurposed or are seriously overgrown and are not really viewable. The main gun line housing Battery Read and Battery Gibson is viewable but not easily accessible. You can access the upper level if you go all the way around the front and climb through the brush. The area around the main gun line batteries was at least mowed, but the whole area was mosquito infested. I was unable to find a way to Battery Elder and Battery Ritchie and there was no one to ask, the place seemed almost abandoned. The garrison buildings have mostly been repurposed and are not identified as to their original purpose.
We moved on to Fort Delaware, which is situated on Pea Patch island in the middle of the Delaware River, accessible only by the Three Forts Ferry. This is a foot ferry, no cars, no pets, limited schedule, so be forewarned. Amy stayed behind with our dog, Destiny. The ride out was short and pleasant, and the rangers meet you at the dock with transportation to the fort. The old third system fort is a must-see fort, it is well cared for, well interpreted and well staffed. I spent several hours combing the fort and really enjoyed my time there.
In addition to the third system fort, there are five Endicott period gun batteries on the site. Three of the Endicott Period batteries were built into the walls of the Third System fort, and two of them are outside of the old fort moat. The two outside the moat, Battery Dodd and Battery Hentig, were viewable but not accessible, blocked by the dreaded yellow tape. Luckily both of these batteries are level with the ground and you can at least photograph the gun emplacements. The three batteries built into the old fort walls, Battery Alburtis, Battery Torbert and Battery Allen, were only viewable from a distance and were not accessible to the general public. I travelled back to the Delaware side on the ferry, and we drove around the harbor and over the bridge to Fort Mott on the New Jersey side.
Fort Mott is a total joy to visit, it was an Endicott Period post, now a state park. The main focus is on the military post and the five Endicott Period gun batteries. The staff and volunteers are a dedicated bunch and have done a great job. The batteries are open, visitor proofed, safe and interpreted. The dreaded yellow tape was only spotted at the lower level of one battery that is being restored.
There are not a large number of post buildings remaining, but the ones that remain are well taken care of. Some things you hardly ever see were the Peace Magazine, the Observation Tower and gun yard. The grounds are well kept and very inviting. Battery Gregg and Battery Harker are well interpreted and have enhanced access to battery rooms and emplacements. Detailed explanations of battery functions and displays bring life to the battery.
On the river side of the post, there are a mix of 1870s period structures and Endicott Period batteries. Battery Krayenbuhl, Battery Edwards, the tunnels, the long parados and the moat all add to the detail of the fort. Do not miss the museum either.
This post was written by JohnStanton on October 22, 2010