For vacation, we spent two nights in the Camden / Rockport, ME area and then drove up to Bar Harbor, ME for three nights. The drive northeast is a long one, about three hours on US Route 1. Since we needed to check out early in Camden and couldn't check in until later in Bar Harbor, we needed to figure out something to take up some time and break up the ride. We weren't able to find any lighthouses along the way so figured we'd just find something in Bar Harbor to do when we arrived to kill time. Little did we know, at almost the halfway point of the ride was Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, which was perfect for what we were looking for.
Inland on the western banks of the Penobscot River, Fort Knox was constructed in response to British occupation of Bangor, ME during both the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 (by response, I mean post wars). The batteries were constructed in 1844 and the main fort started in 1853. Troops were stationed there during both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, although no enemy ships threatened this location during these conflicts.
Some fun facts about the fort...It was named after Major General Henry Knox who was the first US Secretary of War. The granite used to build the fort was quarried locally from Mt. Waldo and floated down the river to the site. The fort and batteries had mounts for 135 cannons but only 74 cannons were ever brought to the site. Finally, almost 1 million dollars was spent in the construction of Fort Knox and was ongoing for 25 years. When construction finally ceased in 1869, it was still not considered finished! A brochure for Fort Knox can be found here.
Entrance to Fort Knox
Cannon Installation Location
Looking out from cannon location
Courtyard in the Center
From the Top
Sharing the same parking area as Fort Knox is the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. This is a very large bridge that connects the east and west banks of the Penobscot river. It's a structure that took the place of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge built back in 1931, which was in need of repairs. The new Penobscot Narrows bridge has two towering obelisks with cables suspending the platforms. The eastern obelisk has an elevator that allows visitors to reach the top and view Maine for 360 degrees.
The observation tower stands 42 stories above the river, being higher than the Statue of Liberty. It received funding in 2003 and only took 41 months to complete. There's an observation deck and picnic area. The grounds also has an extra cross-section of bridge setup so you can see the interior construction...it's a cool place for sure! A brochure for Fort Knox can be found here.
The Penobscot Narrows Observatory
Section of the new bridge so you can see its construction
Picnic area, old launch for the Waldo-Hancock Bridge (I think)
The Observation Tower
Cool sign showing the size of this landmark! (Bunker Hill, Statue of Liberty, Penobscot Narrows Observatory, Washington Monument)
Through the observation tower window, to the south (toward ocean)
Toward the north, Fort Knox
To the west, through the bridge!