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Castle Island/Boston Harbor

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  • Castle Island/Boston Harbor

    Below are some pictures I took today at Castle Island, which is a park centered around an old fort at the entrance to Boston Inner Harbor. The first fort there was built by the British in 1634. There have been 8 forts there. I was trying to take historical type pictures to do a write-up, but that will have to wait until I have a charged battery and I can access the whole fort (My wife and I were there at the tour time today - it was so hot they didn't have enough volunteers to open today, but the head guide was nice and let me in when I explained what I wanted to do). Anyway, below are some pictures that are nice pictures if nothing else.

    The first picture is taken from the top of the fort. The Dorchester Heights Monument can be seen, it is the tallest structure in the photo, a tower behind a large building (which is South Boston High School). The Monument is located West South West of the top of the fort. Below is a link to a post on ACG I did before. The Monument commemorates where the colonists under Washington and Knox's direction placed the guns from Fort Ticonderoga to force the British to evacuate Boston.

    The second picture looks toward the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester at Columbia Point. It includes the white building right on Dorchester Bay. Nearby is UMass Boston and one of the famous "Gas Tanks" - which at one point supposedly had Ho Chi Minh's profile painted on it. The hill to the left of the picture in the background merges into "The Blue Hills".

    The third picture, I just happened to snap because of the jet taking off from Logan airport, just across the inner harbor. And, as the guides always explain (or at least the good ones), the guns shown don't match up with the guns that would have been there at any time in the history of this fort.

    The fourth picture, I'm quite proud of. It was taken walking from the fort out onto the causeway which goes into the water and goes back to the road quite a ways down. This picture shows Boston's two tallest buildings in the background, the John Hancock building and the Prudential, the location of a sailing program for Boston children, and it shows people of different colors swimming on the beach. Twenty years the harbor water still was very dirty, before the multi-billion dollar cleanup, and only a few brave souls would go swimming. And when I lived in South Boston, the housing projects were just starting to become integrated. A better city on two fronts.

    The fifth picture shows the iconic burger stand/ice cream stand on Castle Island, Sullivan's. On Sunday afternoons and evenings especially the South Boston expatriates from the South Shore, the "Irish Riviera" tend to "return to the nest" at Sullivan's.

    The sixth picture shows a harbor cruise ship returning to Boston via the main channel of Boston Harbor. Across the water is Winthrop, MA. Just to the right, not in the picture, is the Deer Island Sewer Treatment Plant, the main part of the Harbor Cleanup.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 07 Jul 13, 09:48.

  • #2
    Wikipedia article on Castle Island.


    • 1632: A battery was constructed at Fort Hill, the southernmost portion of the Boston peninsula as an advance line of defense in case of attack.
    • 1634 Now an established community, Boston sought defenses further out in the harbor, on one of the numerous islands which protected the port; shipping being the only means of receiving supplies and communications from England. Hull was the first site inspected but the cold sea breeze proved too much for Governor Winthrop and his counselors and this idea was abandoned. In July of this year twenty men, including Governor Thomas Dudley and his council, visited Castle Island and decided it would be perfect site for a fortress. Each man present subscribed 5 pounds for the fortification and elected Deputy Governor Roger Ludlow of Dorchester, to supervise construction. After two platforms and a small earthwork were constructed on the northeast side of the island, the General Court resolved that the fort at Castle Island be fully perfected, before any other fortification was begun.
    • 1635 Three cannons, one of which belonged to Deputy Governor Bilingham, were carried down on lighters and installed at the Castle and the garrison, made up of two men weekly from each of the six towns to be paid from the treasury of the colony, fired these at incoming vessels until the ship recognized the fortification by raising her flag. Thomas Beecher (ancestor of Henry Ward Beecher) who had come over as master of the "Talbot" was one of the Castle officers at this time. Captain Nicholas Simpkins was the first commander (followed by Lt Edward Gibbons).

    First named Castle William by the English, who were fighting the French for control over North America. One of the more famous figures to be imprisoned at the Fort was privateer Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste (170206).
    The fort was renamed Fort Independence in 1797 and is one of the oldest fortified sites in British North America. In the late 18th-century it served as the first state prison in Massachusetts.[2] The present structure, built between 1833 and 1851, is the eighth generation of forts. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    During the Siege of Boston at the start of the American Revolution "Castle William" served as the main base of military operations for the British. The leaders of the Massachusetts royal administration took refuge there with their families, as did some prominent loyalists or "tories." Major Pelham Winslow of the prominent loyalist town of Marshfield, Massachusetts was the Commander of Castle William for a time during the Revolution. After the March 17, 1776 British Evacuation of Boston, Castle William was destroyed a few days later (March 20, 1776).[3]
    Long recognized for its strategic location, a new fort later built on Castle Island(when?) helped protect Boston from British attack during the War of 1812. The island is also the site of a monument to Donald McKay, the builder of the famous clipper ships Flying Cloud and Sovereign of the Seas. The monument faces across Boston Harbor towards East Boston, where McKay built his ships.
    Castle Island was originally some distance offshore, but land reclamation for expansion of port facilities has extended the mainland towards it, and it is now connected to the mainland by pedestrian and vehicle causeways. Today it is operated as a state park by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and is open to tours in the summer.
    Local lore has it that an unpopular officer was walled up in the fort's dungeon following a duel in which he killed a more popular man. Edgar Allan Poe learned of the legend while serving on Castle Island in the Army, and his short story "The Cask of Amontillado" is said to be based on it.[4]
    During World War II the U.S. Navy used the site for a ship degaussing station.


    • #3
      Some more Castle Island Pictures I found on the web.

      Korean War Memorial

      overhead view looking northwestward from the castle towards downtown Boston. Adjacent to the castle is the container port for Boston - used to be the South Boston Army Base.

      interesting because of both the carrier and the cruiser

      Last edited by lakechampainer; 07 Jul 13, 09:51.


      • #4
        Korean War Memorial again

        Back in the day, before 1915

        Sullivan's back in the day - a car from the early 60s?

        75 feet to the right of the Sullivan's entrance

        Definitely a great fishing place - although I am sad to say I have never fished there - no one fishing yesterday at mid-day, couldn't take pictures. People fish mainly off a large fishing platform built right on the main channel (as in picture below) and off the causeway, where the water comes in and out of Pleasure Bay during the tides. In the picture below the island to the left with the hills received much of the material from "The Big Dig"


        • #5
          From the handout from the Castle Island Association given out on tours of the castle, which are given by volunteers from the association:


          In 1634, Governor Dudley of Massachusetts Bay Colony selected Castle Island for the sea defense of Boston. The first fortifications were an earthwork and 2 platforms with 3 cannons. A pine log fort (1644), the second fort, was replaced with a more substantial structure in 1653. This burned down and was quickly replaced with the fourth fort (1673). These forts, and the succeeding ones, to this day are known as "The Castle".

          In 1703 Colonel Romer's brick, 4-bastioned fort, begun in 1701, wad dedicated, and for most of the 1700's thereafter, the fort was generally known as "Castle William" after William III of Orange, King of England. It was armed with 72 cannons, ranging from 9 to 42 pounders. In 1776, the British, evacuating Boston, destroyed the island's fortifications which were repaired shortly thereafter by troops under Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. In 1778, Colonel Richard Gridley "renewed the works".

          Massachusetts ceded Castle Island to the United States in 1798. President John Adams came to dedicate a new fort known as "Fort Independence" in 1799.

          This, the island's 7th fort, 5-bastioned and of brick, was built by Colonel John Foncin between 1801 and 1803. By 1851 Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, "the Father of West Point," completely reconstructed the eighth and present fort on Castle Island: doubling the former height, expanding the perimeter, constructing casemated interiors and replacing brick with granite from the quarries in Rockport, Mass. Colonel Foncin's 5-bastioned concept was retained.


          • #6
            Again, from the visitor's handout from the Castle Island Association:

            THE FORTS IN WAR

            In the 360 years of the 8 forts on the island, there was only 1 hostile action. In March 1776, after occupying Dorchester Heights, the Patriots moved to erect a redoubt - a small fort- on the high land, on what is now Farragut Road, to fire at the ships in the channel. The British at Castle William reacted to this by firing cannons from the island, but the range was too great. The colonial troops ignored the shell fire, the British cannon burst and 7 of their soldiers were wounded. On various occasions, the garrisons at the forts fired warning shots at ships that failed to follow Port regulations. In 1637, a passenger aboard a ship was accidentally killed when a warning shot went astray.

            Nonetheless, the forts and the island did play an active part in the wars of the country. During the Revolution, American artillerists were trained here, and Paul Revere and his troops brought some 400 British POW's from the Battle of Bennington to imprisonment on Castle Island.

            The undeclared naval war with France, from 1799 to 1801, saw French prisoners confined at Castle Island. During the War of 1812, Massachusetts militia, largely from Dorchester and surrounding towns, were trained at the fort. During the latter years of this war, the British Navy controlled Massachusetts Bay and raided the towns on the North and South Shores at will. Perhaps Boston did not suffer this fate due to the ominous presence of Fort Independence guarding the inner harbor.

            During the Civil War, the Fort was used to train soldiers bound for the Army of the Potomac. It also served as a temporary prison for Yankee deserters. In 1863, Castle Island troops were sent to Boston to quell a draft riot. New cannons cast at the Cyrus Alger Foundry, in South Boston, were test fired from the fort with Thompsons Island as a target.

            Deactivated in 1879, the Fort returned to active service in 1898 during the Spanish-American War as a torpedo and mine station. In that same year, an accidental explosion killed 4 men and demolished part of the island's southern side.

            During World War I, the Fort acted with the harbor defenses as an observation and identification station for ground observation corps and coastal artillery. In World War II, the Navy operated a detecting station measuring the magnetism of a ship's hull. The Germans had developed a magnetic mine and if the reading on the hull was too high, the ship had to be sent to the Navy Yard to be depermed (de-magnetized). Small vessels were depermed at a pier inside Pleasure Bay, then open to the sea.


            • #7
              My brother's daughter lives in Boston, works at M.I.T. and regularly goes kayaking around Boston harbor with her mates. Posts loads of pics on Facebook. I asked her if this ship was the reconstruction of the Mayflower.

              She said it was the USS Constitution. Is she right, and why did I think it was the Mayflower?

              "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell


              • #8
                Hi Philip, that is The Constitution. Below is a picture of The Mayflower II, built in 1957, and sailed from Europe. It does sail to Boston and other places. following are some links, including FAQ's from Plimoth Plantation, who own the Mayflower II.



                Career (USA) Name: Mayflower II Namesake: Mayflower Owner: Plimoth Plantation Builder: Upham Shipyard, Brixham, Devon Laid down: July 27, 1955 Launched: September 22, 1956 Christened: by Stewart Upham & Reis Leming[1] Status: Museum ship General characteristics [2] Displacement: 238 long tons (242 t) Length: 106 ft 6 in (32.46 m) overall
                90 ft (27 m) hull Beam: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m) Draft: 13 ft (4.0 m) Sail plan: 4-masted ship Armament: 2 3-pounder minion stern chasers

                I don't know by sight where The Constitution picture was taken. Maybe it has just left its berth/museum in Charlestown at the old Navy Yard location.
                Last edited by lakechampainer; 07 Jul 13, 09:44.


                • #9
                  Below is Wikipedia article on USS Constitution, then particulars, then a picture from Castle Island (notice the Logan Airport control tower in the background)


                  Name: USS Constitution Namesake: United States Constitution[1] Ordered: 1 March 1794 Builder: Edmund Hartt's Shipyard Cost: $302,718 (1797)[2] Laid down: 1 November 1794 Launched: 21 October 1797 Maiden voyage: 22 July 1798[3] Renamed: Old Constitution 1917
                  Constitution 1925 Reclassified: IX-21, 1941
                  No classification, 1 September 1975 Homeport: Charlestown Navy Yard[2] Nickname: "Old Ironsides" Status: In active service Badge: General characteristics (As built ca. 1797) Type: 44-gun frigate Tonnage: 1,576[4] Displacement: 2,200 tons[4] Length: 204 ft (62 m) billet head to taffrail;
                  175 ft (53 m) at waterline[2] Beam: 43 ft 6 in (13.26 m) Height: foremast: 198 ft (60 m)
                  mainmast: 220 ft (67 m)
                  mizzenmast:172.5 ft (52.6 m)[2] Draft: 21 ft (6.4 m) forward
                  23 ft (7.0 m) aft[4] Depth of hold: 14 ft 3 in (4.34 m)[1] Decks: Orlop, Berth, Gun, Spar Propulsion: Sail (three masts, ship rig) Sail plan: 42,710 sq ft (3,968 m2) on three masts[2] Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)[1] Boats & landing
                  craft carried: 1 36 ft (11 m) longboat
                  2 30 ft (9.1 m) cutters
                  2 28 ft (8.5 m) whaleboats
                  1 28 ft (8.5 m) gig
                  1 22 ft (6.7 m) jolly boat
                  1 14 ft (4.3 m) punt[2] Complement: 450 including 55 Marines and 30 boys (1797)[2] Armament: 30 24-pounder (11 kg) long gun
                  20 32-pounder (15 kg) carronade
                  2 24-pounder (11 kg) bow chasers[2]
                  Last edited by lakechampainer; 07 Jul 13, 09:45.


                  • #10
                    Hi Philip - I think the Constitution is simply at it's berth here. Now that I think about it, the kayakers obviously couldn't get so close if it was underway. Buildings from satellite photo seem to match.



                    • #11
                      From the Castle Island Association visitors handout again (which I can't find online, not part of their website, that has abbreviated info)


                      The armament of Castle Island varied with its forts. From a low of 3 cannons in 1635, it reached over 200 by the 1770s. The Fort's last major modifications were in the late 1860s and early 1870s, when the ramparts were redesigned to accommodate the 15-inch smoothbore, 50,000 lb. Rodman cannon. Water batteries at the east and west sides of the island complemented the Fort's armament.

                      In 1964, these battery emplacements were demolished and used as fill along the causeway from the Island to Head Island, "Sugar Bowl".

                      After the Civil War, the technology of armament advanced rapidly with the advent of rifled weapons and iron-clad, steam-powered ships. Fort Independence, like all similar seacoast fortifications, was obsolete almost overnight. Gradually, the cannons disappeared from the island. Some were transferred and sold for junk in 1907. The remainder went to the scrap drives of World War II to be recycled into modern weapons.


                      INTERESTING INCIDENTS

                      In 1665, Captain Davenport, the island commander, was killed by a lightening bolt, which missed a powder magazine by only a few feet.

                      When the stamp act was passed in 1765, packages of offending stamps were landed and stored at Castle William.

                      As a result of the Boston Massacre, the 14th and 29th regiments were withdrawn from Boston to the safety of Castle William.

                      At the time of the Boston Tea Party, many loyalists, including consignees of tea, sought refuge in Castle William.

                      The duel between Lts. Massie and Drane in 1817 has resulted in a legend that still lives. Edgar Allen Poe served on Castle Island for 5 months in 1827 under the name of Perry, and his story of "The Cask of Amontillado" is alleged to have been influenced by the Drane-Massie duel.
                      Last edited by lakechampainer; 07 Jul 13, 10:15.


                      • #12
                        I haven't been able to find pictures I really like showing when the Fort displays various flags, including the 50 state flags and battle flags from the revolution. These are displayed around the perimeter on the inside. Below is an example


                        • #13
                          More Castle Island photos from the other day:

                          first photo - looking more or less eastward from the midpoint of the causeway at the "backside" of the fort

                          second photo - from the top of the fort, looking towards downtown Boston through the container port cranes and equipment. shiny silver building is Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by lakechampainer; 09 Jul 13, 16:17.


                          • #14
                            Awesome photos

                            I have never been to Boston but it is on my "to do" list.

                            BTW: what is the "Boston Metropolitan Police"? I have never heard of this agency before. Is it like some sort of county police department?


                            • #15

                              There are too many cannon on the ship to be the Mayflower. The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) was a Super Frigate that scared the Royal Navy Badly when they first fought. The Royal Navy expected its Frigates to take on and win at least two enemy Frigates of similar size or a bigger ship. While the typical Royal Navy Heavy Frigate carried 36/38 18 pounder cannon, Old Ironsides actually carried 40 large guns of at least 24 pound class and some larger Carronades on deck.

                              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


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