Forts of the Piscataqua River

In the interests of finding new and different things to do on a Saturday where we have nowhere special to be, the BF came up with the idea of making a list of state parks, and trying to visit as many as possible this summer. So we started this Saturday, at pretty much the southernmost tip of Maine, at the Fort McClary State Historic Monument in Kittery. What we didn’t know is that the fort itself doesn’t usually open until after Memorial Day, but one of the local reenactment groups was doing a French and Indian War encampment, so we were able to go inside the blockhouse, and there were lots of random people in pre-Revolutionary War costume walking about. Definitely a good weekend to pick for a visit.

From the blockhouse, we could see a lighthouse, still on the Maine side of the river, and another fort, this one on the New Hampshire side of the river. So we decided to visit both.

We headed further into Kittery, and found ourselves at Fort Foster, which is owned by the town of Kittery. It’s a fantastic park. There’s a pier where you can get a great view of the nearby lighthouse (there’s actually what appears to be a keeper’s house on a tiny islet nearby the lighthouse islet, which is the picture directly above. The lighthouse was a bit too far out to photograph well.), two extremely decent beaches, and a number of trails through the woods and around marshland and swamp. There are picnic sites galore. If we lived closer, I suspect we’d end up spending a lot of time there.

We happened to arrive at the lowest part of an extremely low tide, so there was quite a bit poking out of the water that’s not normally visible, which was interesting to see.

Our last fort stop was Fort Constitution, in New Castle, NH. It takes a bit of driving to get there, as you have to get all the way back out to Route 1, and then drive all the way into New Castle. The fort’s on a Coast Guard base, so there’s actually a blue line painted across their parking lot, and you have to park outside the grounds, and walk on that line to get to the fort. Quite the experience. There’s a nice little lighthouse on the grounds, which is unfortunately covered in scaffolding at the moment, so no pictures.

There are actually two more forts down the coast in New Hampshire, but it was late enough in the day that we weren’t able to visit those.

I do need to make a side note on our food for the day, because it was a great food day indeed. We had lunch at the incomparable Flo’s Hot Dogs. For an afternoon snack, we happened into Terra Cotta Pasta, in Kittery. The owners are the nicest people you will ever meet. They do a tour of the place for first timers, and send you home with a free pound of pasta (and the array of choice there was mind boggling flavorwise). They had a noodle cake with a mildly spicy chili aioli behind the counter, which we got as a snack. It was absolute perfection. And, it turns out they’ve open a store in South Portland, so we can get them locally. We finished out the day at the Steakhouse in Wells, which has to have the best steak in Maine. It’s always a bit of a wait, but it’s always so worth it. I got a surf and turf with filet and scallops that was divine. Needless to say, we pretty much stuck with bread and water on Sunday to make up for the largess on Saturday, but it was a great food day.


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