My initial plans for our October 1st trip were quite ambitious. My thoughts were to visit the bridge in Brunswick, Fort Popham in Phippsburg, and stopping at the Bath Maritime Museum on our way back up the peninsula before turning northwards to explore Fort Edgecombe. Did I mention I also did a Google search on trails near Fort Popham? Quite a lot for one day, huh?
I have always over-planned things. I guess I just enjoyed the planning and would rather have things we did not get to see than to discover that we did not have enough to do. Fortunately, the indoor exploration of the Maritime Museum was crossed off the list when I realized I had left my mask at home. The itinerary was looking better already!
When I researched the area around Fort Popham, I discovered that there was a trail leading up to some additional fort remains about 1 mile from that site. Once we had completed our tour at Hunnewell Point and had returned to our car, we made the first right away from the fort. Although a two way street, this very narrow road was really only wide enough for one car. We made the tight turn at the top of the hill and were soon in the parking lot for the historic grounds of Fort Baldwin and Fort St. George.
Our first step was to wander around a large grassy area by the river. As we got closer to the river we found a large historical sign explaining the history of Fort St. George. It seems that Fort St. George, established in 1607, was considered the first colony in New England. It was believed to have been a star shaped fort, but was abandoned in 1608 upon the death of Captain George Popham. All that remains today is the historical sign and a sculpture attached to a boulder that depicts the shape of the fort and the ship that brought them there. Later, I found an interesting article about the Fort in the February 2004 edition of the Smithsonian Magazine, titled “Maine’s Lost Colony”.
Once we finished learning about the history of Fort St. George, we made our way across the road from the parking lot to the trail that would lead us to Baldwin Fort. The trail up Sabino Hill was an old graveled road with grass growing between the tire tracks. The gravel was pretty loose so we did have to watch our step. Considering that it was October, we also experienced more mosquitos than I expected.
Fort Baldwin was a relatively new structure constructed in 1905. It consisted of 3 batteries and an observation tower. The batteries were named after an American Revolution lieutenant Cogan, Civil War Brigadier General Hawley, and American Revolution Captain Hardman. The fort was abandoned in the 1940s.
We were not walking too long when we reached the first battery. Considering that these were much younger buildings than Fort Popham, I was a bit surprised that they were in such a state of decline, perhaps because they were built using concrete as compared to Fort Popham which used granite blocks. In addition to the natural decline of the buildings, there was quite a bit of graffiti inside the structures. That was a bit of a disappointment.
A short walk beyond the third battery, we stopped to study the observation tower. The trees had grown over time, so I was not sure that anyone could keep a watch for anything coming up the river today. It was still interesting, though.
I believe the trail continued on towards Popham Beach. We thought we would hike on for a bit but stopped when we found signs that indicated hunting was not permitted on historic sites. This meant we were leaving the fort grounds. Since we did not bring our orange vests for this trip, we decided to turn around and head for home. I would say that a bridge and 3 forts was a rather productive day.