|U.S. National Register of Historic Places|
|U.S. National Historic Landmark|
|Architectural style(s):||No Style Listed|
|Governing body:||State (Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands)|
|Added to NRHP:||October 01, 1969|
|Designated NHL:||December 30, 1970|
Fort Knox, now Fort Knox State Park or Fort Knox State Historic Site, in Maine was built from 1844-1869. It is located on the western bank of the Penobscot River in the town of Prospect, Maine, about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the mouth of the river. It was the first fort in Maine built of granite (instead of wood). It is named after Henry Knox, the first US Secretary of War, who at the end of his life lived not far away in Thomaston, Maine. The fort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Construction began during a period of tension between the United Kingdom and the United States over issues about the Canadian border following the Aroostook War. The intent was to defend the Penobscot River and Bangor, Maine, a major source of shipbuilding lumber. Construction funding from Congress was intermittent, and the fort's design was never fully completed although nearly a million dollars were spent. Granite was quarried five miles (8 km) upriver from Mount Waldo in Frankfort, Maine.
It had two batteries facing the river, each equipped with a hot shot furnace to heat cannon shots hot enough to set ships on fire. These became obsolete with the changeover from wooden ships to ironclads.
The fort was manned during the U. S. Civil War by volunteers from Maine (mostly recruits in training before assignment to active duty). At this time the bulk of the work on the fort, including adapting the batteries to use the recently invented Rodman cannon was finished under the supervision of Thomas Lincoln Casey. It was manned during the Spanish-American War by a regiment from Connecticut. The garrison was reduced to one upon their departure at the end of the war. The fort never saw battle. In 1923, the federal government declared the fort excess property and put its 125-acre (0.51 km2) grounds up for sale. It was bought by the state of Maine for $2,121. It is now a Maine state historic site and was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970.
Fort Knox also serves as the entry site for the Observation Tower of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which opened to the public on May 19, 2007.
The Friends of Fort Knox, a nonprofit group formed in the 1990s, has been responsible for many fort repairs and improvements. Friends of Fort Knox projects include the transformation of the Torpedo Storage Shed into the Visitor and Education Center, restoration of the Officer's Quarters, installation of interpretive panels, repair of Battery A powder magazine, restoration and display of four 24-pound flank howitzer cannons, repair and opening of the enlisted men's quarters cistern rooms and extensive masonry repair.
- Charles W. Snell (July 10, 1970). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort Knox State Park / Fort Knox. National Park Service. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/69000023.pdf and PDF (1.85 MB)
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/.
- "Fort Knox". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=812&ResourceType=Structure. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- Fort Knox web site
- Friends of Fort Knox web site
- Bucksport and Fort Knox info
- The Fort Knox Roll Book Website