Travel Thursday, Fort Casey and Fort Ebey

Port Townsend was my last full day in Washington, and we were actually able to hit a few different spots throughout the day. I’ve come to realise that Washington is full of many, many state parks. I have also come to realise that Washington’s history is actually pretty diverse than what I originally thought- not just a later developing west coast area, but rather rich with military and maritime history. It doesn’t hurt that most of these parks are gorgeous forests with spectacular ocean views… While I wouldn’t spend a whole day in either of these parks (if you are outdoorsy, you might), it was wonderful to take some time to see what they were about!

Fort Casey State Park is on Whidbey Island itself, and is about a two minute drive from the Port Townsend ferry! We stopped here before we headed over to Port Townsend. It was incredibly grey and foggy (I’m weird, it’s my favourite kind of weather), and while i could see the remains of the Fort itself, I could not see the ocean. I could hear the water, but theoretically someone could have just been playing really convincing noises. I’m going to assume they weren’t….

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Originally the fort was built was in the nineteenth century to protect Washington against marine attacks. The huge disappearing guns could be raised to fire and then be lowered immediately again to prevent damage. According to Wikipedia, the guns were essentially obsolete by the time construction was done because air technology allowed for accurate and mobile attacks. The guns were removed to be used in artillery units in the First World War and scrapped before the Second World War. The guns there now were originally in the Philippines, sent over in the 1960s.

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There are explicit signs all over the base telling you in no uncertain terms to stay off of the guns, but if you look up #fortcasey, it’s countless tourists doing just that. Nice to see that people can not care…

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Looking into the 10 inch barrel of this gun made me think of what of it must have been like in the First World War- what would it have been like knowing that this was on the other side, waiting to fire at you? And what kind of destruction would you expect from it? It is a rather sombering moment, in the rain and fog.

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If you were stationed here, what would it have been like to look out for days at a time and not know what was waiting for you on the other side of the fog?

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Walking along the top of the fort, it felt like we were in a WWI/WWII BBC drama, with the fog and the rain and the bleak fort. While it wouldn’t have been rusted and chipping away in it’s hey day, it still wouldn’t have been The Goring Hotel by any stretch of the imagination.

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All of the batteries have full, proper English names (which entertained me given the whole American revolution deal, but I digress.), which I didn’t learn until I got home and started googling. From what I can see now, the interiors are just empty shells. Interesting, but I find that empty, remaining shells of buildings often give me a serious case of the heebie jeebies. I keep reminding myself that at one point, it was not empty but rather full of life and people!

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There must be restorers in here from somewhere, because the paint looks fairly new and fresh, with no chipping, on the wooden building. There is also paint and plywood and a few other supplies, so I’m thinking that they occasionally come and touch it up to maintain against the sea water constantly spraying up.

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After we landed back on the mainland from Port Townsend, we quickly stopped at Fort Ebey! While I didn’t spot any ruins from it’s military origins, there are some pretty beautiful views. I noticed quite a few people with mountain bikes and hiking shoes, and many people with their dogs. It is a recreational park now, and I can see that it would be a good destination for the active outdoorsy folk out there! As you can see, it was quite sunny out and we were treated with these sights!

Fort Ebey View 1

Fort Ebey Panoramic

This small sailboat was making it’s way along, amongst much larger crafts passing it at much higher speeds. While I am not a water person myself, I should think that it would be quite a peaceful feeling to be out in the water like that! It almost reminds me of a very teeny Viking longship.

Fort Ebey Sailboat

I’m sorry, we were going to take a selfie! You can’t not take one when there are views like this behind you with the sun brightly shining.

Fort Ebey Selfie

You can really see the mountains over on this side of the island, and they look pretty spectacular, even from this distance. Everywhere you go in Washington, you can play spot Mt. Ranier! (Maybe I will try to make my way there- if it’s a mountain that people do go to. I’ll have to do some research on that one….) Although they are much closer when you are over in Port Townsend, I personally believe that it is a nicer view with the ocean view.

Fort Casey Mountain View

While these parks are fairly close together, they look like night and day from this pictures! I don’t know a ton of US history, but I was still happy I was able to take a few moments in each park to take them in. This landscape is essentially the exact opposite of the prairies, so I find it fascinating to learn how the ocean and the mountains factored into their history and culture. I’m probably never going to read the entire historiography of it, but I would love to get my hands on a book of Washington military history. As a historian, this day was perfect for my curiosity! M is pretty much the perfect tour guide for me, he knows just what I will enjoy!

What historical sites have been your favourite? Have you ever had a sudden realisation when visiting somewhere? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!

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