August 03, 2005

Gratuitous Anticipatory Vacation Posting

Image lifted from Bath Iron Works

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite spots to visit when I go to Maine is Popham Beach State Park. The sand is beautiful and uncrowded. But around the point from the beach are several more treats as well. First, there is Fort Popham. Built in 1861, although never completed, it was designed to guard the mouth of the Kennebec River. (The ship passing it in the photo, is on its way to the Bath Iron Works, located about 15 miles upstream.)

I used to think that this fort was a piece of pure paranoia on the part of the Yankees until I read of the considerable Southern commerce raider activity off the New England coastline, up to and including a little-known Confederate raid on Portland on June 27, 1863, by Lt. Charles Read. He and his men snuck into the harbor and cut out a Federal revenue cutter, the Caleb Cushing. Unfortunately for the rebels, they were becalmed while trying to escape and were captured by the local citizenry.

And speaking of local citizenry, Popham also holds claim to being home of the first English colony in New England, Fort St. George, founded in 1607 and beating the Pilgrims of Plymouth by thirteen years. The Popham colony doesn't get much general notice because after a year, the colonists decided they didn't like the place and went home. But important archeological work has been done at the site in recent years that is helping to increase historians' understanding of English colonial activity of the period, and may, for example, offer important clues about the founding of Jamestown.

Can't wait.

Posted by Robert at August 3, 2005 03:03 PM | TrackBack

Hate to be a stickler, Robert, but the ship in the photo can't possibly be the Arleigh Burke. It's not even a destroyer; it's a Ticonderoga class cruiser. With a little help from Google, I found out that CG 51 is the USS Thomas S. Gates.

Posted by: Hootowl at August 3, 2005 07:13 PM

Hating likewise to be a stickler, I must observe that the Jamestown colony ALSO beat the Pilgrims by 13 years. The difference is that the Popham colonists, after freezing their coastal keesters during the long Maine winter, scampered away the very next spring. MIT has a short historical sketch here:'s asho

Posted by: Axel Kassell at August 3, 2005 08:34 PM

Thanks, Hoot. My bad. Axel, I was only talking about New England colonists. We Virginians know all about Jamestown's pride of place.

Posted by: Robert the LB at August 4, 2005 07:50 AM
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