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Wandering Fort McClary

Fort McClary
The region's most dramatic
military site plus great views

A defense against five wars that never arrived in Maine, Fort Mcclary still stands overlooking the Piscataqua. The most dramatic historic site in the region, the hexagonal Kittery fort is the perfect spot to explore on a sunny afternoon.



Visitors can see exactly where the building stopped after the Civil War. Huge granite blocks lie scattered near the massive ocean bulwark. Visitors pay a mere $2 donation (honor system) to wander among the brick, wooden and granite structures high above the river with extraordinary views of Maine and New Hampshire.

GOseacoast.comEstablished as a defense site in the late 1600s, the 1720 Fort William was originally named for William Pepperell, the Kittery hero of Louisbourg, But the Pepperells were Loyalists, so in 1808 the fort was renamed for Andrew McClary, a New Hampshire major killed at Bunker Hill. The blockhouse dates from around 1845. Visitors can wander the sparse empty fort for a spectacular 360-degree view. Both upstairs and bottom floor are often open for viewing of the complex granite and log beam construction. The major additional construction, including the granite wall, earthwork, underground tunnels, and caponier were built during the Civil War. The cannons are gone. The fort was finally abandoned after World War I.

The state of Maine (formerly Massachusetts) recognizes Fort McClary, even though it never saw action, as one of the most important fort sites in the state. With the help of the Friends of For McClary it is well maintained with safety railings and a small parking lot, but still very much a ruin that visitors are free to wander – and ponder this little-known piece of local history. -- JDR

VISIT: Directions on
SEE: Portsmouth Forts web site
All photos by J. Dennis Robinson,

Fort McClary Blockhouse

Fort Mcclary blockhouse

Fort McClary View

Fort McClary

Fort McClary Magazine

Fort McClary


Fort McClary

Map from the Maine Dept of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Land

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018 
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