Fortress Fixation

On December 22, 2009 · 8 Comments

I used my unexpected day off from work yesterday — courtesy of the weekend snowstorm — to focus on a webpage I’ve wanted to construct for awhile. It serves as a portal to various pages that outline historic military forts that I’ve encountered and recorded during my travels. Yes, along with lighthouses, waterfalls, breweries, ferries, and counties, I’m also a relentless collector of fortifications. I have this compulsion to count things of a similar nature and to gather them into sets.

The current result can be found in Forts, Fortresses and Fortifications. I created a basic xml file to hold the latitude/longitude coordinates, image tags and page links that will pop up when a user clicks a marker on the underlying Google map. I still need to add a few more forts once I have an opportunity to identify and scan a bunch of pre-digital hardcopy photos I’ve stored in a shoebox.



I also need to decide whether I’ll include forts I’ve visited outside of the United States. Dunadd in Scotland would be a likely candidate. I also have Burg Katz in Germany on the website but is that more castle or fortress? Hmmm… including castles would add a whole new and interesting dimension to the collection. Decisions, decisions.

The name I chose seemed a bit redundant but I liked the way it sounded and it should help the search engines catalog the subject matter. It’s still a prototype so I can always modify that later along with anything else on the page. We’ll see.

Any design or content recommendations would be appreciated at my email address. I don’t have a lot of web design skills so I won’t be able to do anything fancy. In fact, I’ve pretty well hit the outer limits of my technical abilities, but I’ll see what I can do with any suggestions.

Relief is on the way if you’ve grown tired of my off-topic ramblings over the last several days.
I promise to return to geography-related stories going forward and I already have the next round of articles mapped out.

On December 22, 2009 · 8 Comments

8 Responses to “Fortress Fixation”

  1. Bill Harris says:

    I’m not sure if this fits your definition of forts, fortresses, and fortifictions, but the WWII coastal batteries on the Delaware shoreline might interest you. The ubiquitous cylindrical observation towers dot the coastline and a restored coastal battery has just been opened to the public. Most of the land that housed the coastal defenses, including Ft. Miles, are now incorporated into the Delaware Seashore Park. If you wander around the park, you will sometimes stumble upon an abandoned bunker or gunnery mount.

  2. Alger says:

    I like it, but it is a bit light in regional variety. Come to Rhode Island, we have lots of restored forts. There are also a number of lovely restorations in the Midwest; Vincennes, IN, and Fort Osage in Sibley, MO, are especially nice.

  3. Jon P. says:

    You may be interested in Fort Trumbull, in New London, CT:
    http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325200. I so rarely get to merge my lawyer day job with my geography nerd status. Right across the street is possibly one of the more depressing Google street view images out there:


    View Larger Map

    This is the foundation of the former home of Suzette Kelo, whose efforts to resist the city’s condemnation of her home led to the infamous 2005 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of a city’s exercising eminent domain over a plot of land that it planned to turn over to private industry for waterfront development. (You can still see the house in the satellite photo.) Last month Pfizer (the main beneficiary of the project) announced that it would close its plant in New London, guaranteeing that the neighborhood will look like this for some time.

    By the way, in terms of square mileage, New London is the second smallest of all 169 Connecticut municipalities.

  4. geographylady says:

    none in texas? for shame. we have a wonderful line of forts – from Worth to Davis – some of which have been preserved. especially nice are Fts. Concho, Mckavett, Mason, and Davis. map here: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_texas/texas_frontier_forts.jpg

    • Bill: I’ve seen those cylindrical towers in Delaware while driving between Rehoboth Beach and Fenwick Island and indeed I’d consider them to fit within my somewhat subjective definition. I’ll be sure to stop to explore now that I know one is open to the public. We usually make it over to Rehoboth for a random weekend once every couple of winters when the crowds are gone but I stay far, far away in the summer. That’s what I do — zig when everyone else zags.

      Alger: Indeed, a little variety is in order. I still have some more I need to add after I scan the photos but none from Rhode Island yet. I’d love to come up to Rhode Island but I’ll have to think about how I can avoid my least favorite road on the planet, the dreaded I-95.

      Jon P.: I think many people were incensed, myself included, both when those homes were claimed by eminent domain for commercial purposes and the eventual abandonment of the project signifying that the homes were destroyed for nothing. There may be no Street View image more poignant than the one you’ve captured. I had no idea it was so closely located next to an historic masonry fortification.

      Geographylady: I’ve been to the Alamo! — I need to add that one to the map (I know, not technically a “fort” although it was used for that purpose for that historic event). I’ve also been to the city of Fort Worth many times but I’m not sure that counts.

  5. pfly says:

    You haven’t been to Fort Monroe? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Monroe — it certainly looks cool from above:


    View Larger Map

    And close to you too, I think. It’s the best-looking and perhaps largest “star fort” I’ve been able to find in the United States. Dunno about visiting, but seems doable.

    Merry xmas–nice that you had snow. We visited my parents in the Santa Barbara area and with temperates in the high 60s and no wind we spent a lovely Christmas day at the beach. ! It was weird but nice.

  6. Steve says:

    Hurrumph. Trumped on a CT factoid? Must be the holidays…

    yeah, the emminent domain fiasco down in New London is ridiculous. Bad enough Phizer – a commercial entity, was behind the mess… Worse now that they are leaving town altogether.

    we have a few forts here besides Fort Trumbull. Fort Griswold sort of still exists in New London, Fort Shantok also has a park, and the doubly named Black Rock Fort/Fort Nathan Hale in New Haven.

    Oh, and Jon… Derby is the smallest town in CT. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    And Tom – Cape Henlopen St. Pk in Delaware does indeed contain several WWII fortifications and tunnels and turrets and stuff, and they were open to poke around in when I was a kid.

    What I find interesting about forts is that we have them from so many different wars and battles, all the way from the Pequot Wars to teh F&I, 1812, Revolutionary wars to the WWII stuff in Oregon, Delaware and others. Heck, there are Nike Missile sites all over from the cold war (One right near my house in CT). Sounds like a fun category to me.

  7. Joshua says:

    There’s several forts in New York City: Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island; Fort Totten in Bayside and the fortifications (including gun turrets) in Rockaway, Queens; Castle Clinton at Battery Park in Manhattan; Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

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