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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fort Stevens, Oregon"
Includes ... Fort Stevens ... Fort Stevens State Park ... Battery 245 ... Battery Russell ... "Peter Iredale" ... Clatsop Spit ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Highway sign to Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.


Fort Stevens ...
Fort Stevens is located on Point Adams, west of the Oregon communities of Astoria, Warrenton, and Hammond. To the west is the Pacific Ocean, and south is the Clatsop Plain, also known as "Clatsop Beach". Fort Stevens is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) _____.

In 1862, Cape Disappointment, on the Washington side of the Columbia, was armed with smoothbore cannons to protect the mouth of the Columbia River from enemies. Three years later, in 1865, Fort Stevens, complete with a moat and drawbridge, was established on the Oregon side. In 1875 Fort Canby came into existence to improve the defense of the Columbia. In 1896 Fort Columbia was built and in 1897 Fort Stevens was improved. The mouth of the Columbia River was now protected with three forts. Fort Stevens was named for General Isaac Stevens, a former Governor of Washington Territory (1853 to 1857) and a delegate to Congress (1857-1861). General Stevens was killed in 1862 leading a New York regiment against the Confederates.


Fort Stevens History ...
Fort Stevens defended the mouth of the Columbia River for 84 years, "beginning with the Civil War and closing at the end of World War II".

"... The fort was built to protect the North against an English invasion from Canada, should the British join the Civil War on the Confederate side. In its long history, Fort Stevens never fired its guns in anger. The original Fort Stevens consisted of an earthwork, a fort made mainly of dirt, and had gun emplacements and several buildings, all completed in 1865. To protect it from land attack, the fort was surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge. ..." [Friends of Old Fort Stevens website, 2006]

In 1897 Fort Stevens added eight new concrete batteries which included mortars and long and short range rifles.

"... The principal armaments of the new Fort Stevens were 10-inch rifled cannons placed at Batteries Russell, Walker, Lewis and Mishler. Mounted on disappearing carriages, which hid the guns behind concrete and earth walls when not being fired, these guns could fire 617-pound shells at a distance of nine miles. To complement the 10-inch rifles, Fort Stevens was armed with 6-inch rifles at Battery Pratt and 12-inch mortars at Battery Clark. Also, to protect the mine fields at the mouth of the Columbia River, there were two small caliber rapid-fire batteries - Smur and Freeman. ..." [Friends of Old Fort Stevens website, 2006]

During World War II Fort Stevens was again improved, adding Battery 245, a gun emplacement armed with two 6-inch rifles which had a range of about 15 miles. Another battery was placed on the South Jetty.

"... On the night of June 21, 1942, Fort Stevens saw its only action when a Japanese submarine (the I-25) fired 5.5 inch shells in the vicinity of the fort. The shelling caused no damage. The Fort Commander refused to allow return fire. The incident made Fort Stevens the only installation to be attacked by an enemy since the War of 1812. ..." [Friends of Old Fort Stevens website, 2006]

Fort Stevens was decommissioned after World War II. By 1947, all of the guns had been removed and much of the fort was turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who used the fort as their headquarters "for maintenance activities at the mouth of the Columbia River".

A Fort Stevens Post Office operated between 1899 and 1949, and in 1907 there was a Fort Stevens Station which operated on the Hammond spur of the Astroia & Columbia Railroad.

In 1955 Clatsop County gave a parcel of land south of Fort Stevens to the State of Oregon for inclusion in a State Park. In 1968 the State of Oregon gained lease of Fort Stevens from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In 1971 Fort Stevens (also known as Fort Stevens Military Reservation) was added to the National Register of Historic Places (Site, #71000678).


Fort Stevens State Park ...
The 3,700-acre Fort Stevens State Park, located west of Astoria, Oregon, offers camping, beachcombing, swimming, trails, wildlife viewing, an historic shipwreck (the Peter Iredale who wrecked in 1906), and the historic military fort. Nine miles of bicycle trails and 6 miles of hiking trails wind through forests of spruce and hemlock, across wetlands and dunes, and along the shore. Fort Stevens State Park, while under the management of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, is now (2006) part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks.


OREGON HISTORY
FORT STEVENS STATE PARK

"Fort Stevens was named for General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, first Governor of Washington Territory, who died a hero of the Civil War in 1862. The Fort was built in 1864 and decommissioned in 1847. Some 3000 acres of sandy waste land known as Clatsop Sand Plains were stabilized here in the 1930s by the planting of beach grass, shrubs and trees. This park area was donated to the public by Clatsop County in 1955.

The Columbia River to the north was discovered by an American fur trader, Captain Robert Gray in 1792 and was named after his ship. Lewis and Clark, the first Americans to make an overland expedition to the Pacific Coast, camped at Fort Clatsop in 1805-06 four miles east of this point."

Source:    Information sign, Fort Stevens State Park, visited September 2009.


Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Entrance, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oregon History, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
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Warning Sign, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken August 8, 2009.


Fort Stevens, etc.

  • Battery 245 (1944) ...
  • Battery Clark (1899) ...
  • Battery Lewis E. Scott (2004) ...
  • Battery Russell (1904) ...
  • Clatsop Spit and Clatsop Beach ...
  • Mine Dock Pilings (1894) ...
  • Original Earthworks (1863) and Battery Freeman (1902) ...
  • Torpedo Loading Room (1900) ...
  • Wreck of the Peter Iredale (1906) ...


Battery 245 (1944) ...
Battery 245, located at Fort Stevens, was one of three Batteries surrounding the mouth of the Columbia River, with Battery 246 being located at Fort Columbia, Washington, and Battery 247 being located at Fort Canby on Cape Disappointment. Battery 245 contained two 6-inch guns and was completed in 1944.


Battery Clark (1899) ...
Battery Clark was established in 1899. According to the Fort Stevens brochure and map, Battery Clark was named for Captain William Clark of the Corps of Discovery. It was the only mortar battery at Fort Stevens and was originally armed with eight 12-inch mortars. In 1917 four of them were moved across the river to Fort Canby. The Battery "Base End Station" provided range information for Battery Clark's plotting room.

Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Battery Clark Command Station, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. This Battery "Base End Station" provided range information for Battery Clark's plotting room. Image taken September 27, 2009.


Battery Lewis E. Scott (2004) ...
"The Friends of Old Fort Stevens (FOOFS) had this 200 lb. Parrott Rifle built locally out of steel. The bore is 8 inches and the rifle is fired with a salute charge with a spring recoil mechanism that pulls the rifle back the length of the carriage to simulate recoil. FOOFS expended $2000 for the rifle tube and $2500 for the carriage. This is one of a series planned to be built to completely re-arm the Ft. Stevens Earthworks. Next on the list will be a 15-inch Rodman and carriage.

In the summer of 2004, a interpretive replica emplacement was built near the museum for the 200 lb. Parrott Rifle. FOOFS named the emplacement Bty. Lewis E. Scott after FOOFS Board Member Lew Scott, who was the driving force behind the construction of both the weapon and the emplacement. Lew passed away in 2014."

Source:    Battery Pratt Restoration Project website, 2014.


Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
200 pound Parrott Rifle at Battery Lewis E. Scott, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.


Battery Russell (1904) ...
Battery Russell was named after General David A. Russell who was killed in action during the Civil War, at Opequan, Virginia, on September 19, 1864. Battery Russell was completed in August 1904 and contained two 10-inch gun emplacements.

Image, 2009, Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.
Image, 2009, Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.
Image, 2009, Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Gun location, Battery Russell, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.


Clatsop Spit and Clatsop Beach ...
Clatsop Spit extends to the west and north of Point Adams. To the south is Clatsop Beach, the general name given to the 18-mile-long beach extending from Point Adams to Seaside, Oregon. Clatsop Spit and parts of Clatsop Beach are located within Fort Stevens State Park.
[More]

Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
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Deer, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken August 8, 2009.
Image, 2009, South Jetty, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, click to enlarge
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South Jetty viewing platform, Clatsop Spit, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.
Image, 2013, Clatsop Spit, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Snowy Owl, South Jetty, Fort Stevens, Clatsop Spit, Oregon. Image taken February 2, 2013.


Mine Dock Pilings (1894) ...
Mine Dock Pilings (1894)

"The earliest plans for Fort Stevens show a dock at approximately this location, but by 1874 the shoreline had changed, and an extension was necessary. By 1910, the mine operation at the mouth of the Columbia required a new docking facility, including a railroad track for loading the mines onto boats. During World War II, the docks were further improved in anticipation of naval assaults."

Source:    Fort Stevens State Park Trail Guide & Historic Military Site Information brochure, downloaded via Oregon State Parks and Recreation website, 2014.


Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mine Dock Pilings, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. View from Seafarer's Park, Hammond Boat Basin, Hammond, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.


Original Earthworks (1863) and Battery Freeman (1902) ...
Original Earthworks (1863) and Battery Freeman (1902)

"Due to the presence of British and Confederate sea raiders in the area, President Lincoln ordered the construction of fortifications at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1863. On the Oregon side, Fort Stevens, a nine-sided earthen fort surrounded by a moat, was built at Point Adams. Armament consited of 26 guns, including seventeen 10-inch muzzle loading Rodman cannons, which could fire a 128-pound cannonball over one mile. Fort Stevens was completed and occupied by troops in 1864. The earthwork was the only fort of its type on the west coast of the United States. During a modernization program at the turn of the century, a new battery was constructed within the original earthwork. Batter Freeman, named for Lt. Col. Constant Freeman, who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, was armed with two 6-inch rifles on Barbette pedestal carriages and one 3-inch gun on a pedestal mount. All guns were removed from Battery Freeman in 1920, and the battery, along with the earthwork, was leveled in 1940 to make way for a parade ground. The earthworks was reconstructed by the Friends of Old Fort Stevens in cooperation with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the help of the National Guard and U.S. Marine construction engineers."

Source:    Fort Stevens State Park Trail Guide & Historic Military Site Information brochure, downloaded via Oregon State Parks and Recreation website, 2014.


Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Original Earthworks (1863) and Battery Freeman (1902), Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.
Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Civil War Rodman Cannon, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. The Rodman Cannon could fire a 128-pound cannonball over one mile. Image taken September 27, 2009.


Torpedo Loading Room (1900) ...
Torpedo Loading Room (1900)

"When this facility was used, a metal structure covered the concrete base and tank. Torpedoes were tested in the water tank, loaded onto railroad cars and transported to a nearby loading dock."

Source:    Fort Stevens State Park Trail Guide & Historic Military Site Information brochure, downloaded via Oregon State Parks and Recreation website, 2014.


Image, 2009, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Torpedo Loading Room, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. View from Seafarer's Park, Hammond Boat Basin, Hammond, Oregon. Image taken September 27, 2009.


Wreck of the Peter Iredale (1906) ...
On October 25, 1906, during a heavy southwest wind, the four-masted British vessel, the Peter Iredale, ran aground at Clatsop Beach, off the west coast of Fort Stevens. Parts of the skelton of the Peter Iredale are still visible today, with access to the beach from Fort Stevens.
[More]

Image, 2012, Peter Iredale shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
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Peter Iredale shipwreck, Pacific Ocean, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Sunny, windy, late afternoon. Image taken November 26, 2012.
Image, 2009, Peter Iredale shipwreck, Fort Stevens State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Peter Iredale shipwreck, Clatsop Beach, Pacific Ocean, Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon. Weather overcast and grey, but surprisingly no rain. Image taken August 8, 2009.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Fort Stevens, Oregon, 1906
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fort Stevens, Oregon, 1906. Penny Postcard, 1906, "Fort Stevens, Ore., Copyright 1906 by Frank Woodficla". Card is postmarked August 21, 1912. Divided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Fort Stevens, Oregon, ca.1907
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fort Stevens, Oregon, ca.1907. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1907, "Fort Stevens, Oregon". Card is postmarked January 23, 1907. Undivided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    Battery Pratt Restoration Project website, 2014;    Friends of Old Fort Stevens website, 2006;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2004, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    Oregon Parks and Recreation website, 2006, 2014;    Oregon State Historic Photograph website, 2006;    U.S. National Park Service website, 2006, Lewis and Clark National and State Historic Parks;   

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
November 2014