One day in June we drove over to see the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. That is what they call the viewing platform on the beautiful bridge that crosses the Penobscot river. When the original 1931 bridge needed to be replaced, someone had the foresight to include an elevator and stairs inside one of the towers, leading up to a glass viewing area near the top with a 360 view. When you look out one side, you see the bridge stretch across the river to the second tower.
Looking out either side gives a full view of the river. The water was moving fairly quickly and we were surprised to see several jellyfish in the water. I was so interested that I leaned over and lost my camera lens cap - bummer! If you look out (and down) the side near the road, you get a great bird's eye view of the cables. This is some smooth engineering!
Nearby is a cross-section of the bridge, looking like a comic-con Klingon warship.The grounds around the bridge and the parking lot had some of the most beautiful Lupine flowers I've ever seen. I didn't know they could be any color other than dark purple, but here they grow in several colors.
This is a good area to visit because you get two interesting sites instead of just one. About a half mile away is Fort Knox. No, not the one with all the money - this is an entirely different fort, although both forts were named after the first Secretary of War, Major General Henry Knox. It was built around 1844. Troops were stationed during war (1863-1866 for Civil War and in 1898 for the Spanish American War) but none of the troops were in battle. Sounds like a good place to be stationed! Heck, for 57 years the fort was manned by just one soldier. Which is probably what prompted the Federal government close the fort in 1923, at which point Maine bought it and turned it into an Historical Site.
In the gift shop they have a model of a "buoyant submarine torpedo". Twenty-one of these were put in the river during the Spanish American war. They would not explode on contact, so the denotation would have activated by someone. Fortunately their was never a need to detonate any of them.
The fort is constructed of stone and most of it's outside walls are standard flat walls, but one side is terraced like the Pyramid at Chichen Itza
At the top of the fort (accessible from inside) you get a good view of the entire stucture, at which point you see why terracing was necessary. The fort's doorway is at ground level but some of the fort backed against a hill; the transition between those two points is where they terraced the wall.
Inside you get almost full access to the various areas. The interior wooden stairs are constructed without nails, using pegs and tenon-and-mortise. And the stones and bricks are cut amazingly precise. Inside rooms are identified as Officer Quarters, Troop Quarters, Powder room, kitchen, etc. When anyone entered the Powder room he had to take off his gun, sword and shoes - anything that might possibly cause a spark! The kitchen has a couple of items that show how much food was prepared - a huge dough box and a big, sturdy kneading table. Behind the table are several ovens, which are surprisingly small and deep.
This fort has some of those big 10" Rodman cannon that I first discovered in Fort Sumter. Here at Fort Knox I learned how complicated it was to fire those things. It took 8 soldiers to fire each one - a detachment chief, a gunner and six "cannoneers". They have a plaque that outlines the all the steps needed.
I especially like #5, where there is just one poor guy left all by himself to pull the firing lanyard, cringing away and praying it works!
It is advised to bring a flashlight for walking around, and that is a very good suggestion. A few of the dark interior rooms have a deep step down - at least a couple of feet - which, without a flashlight, could make for a heck of a fall. The exterior halls get enough outdoor light to make them safer.
This is a beautiful old building. The pattern of arches is repeated everywhere, inside and out. You see it in the cannon bays, the halls, even the interior rooms.