Fort Mott State Park: Part II of Our Fort Delaware Excursion

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on June 21, 2008 0 Comments

When you purchase ferry tickets to go from Delaware City, Delaware to Pea Patch Island (Fort Delaware), you also get a lift over to Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey which is on the opposite side of the Delaware River from Pea Patch Island.  So, if you plan your day right, you can see two forts in one day!

By 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday, we’d had our fill of Fort Delaware and the kids were ready for more adventure.  After we discovered that we could take the ferry to and from New Jersey as part of our ferry crossing tickets, we jumped at the chance.

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The bank of the Delaware River on New Jersey’s side.

Fort Mott was built as part of the federal government’s late 19th century plan to defend the Delaware River.  With Fort Delaware operational in the early 1820s and the nation involved in the Civil War, construction was delayed until 1872.  At that time only two gun placements and five magazines in the mortar battery were completed before construction was again halted due to budgetary constraints.

When large caliber weapons were added to Fort Mott, three 10-inch and three 12-inch guns were installed on disappearing carriages.  The gun emplaacements were located behind a 750-foot long and 35-foot thick concrete and earthn embankment which was sloped to form the ‘parapet’ wall.  These guns had an effective range of 7 to 8 miles and shot projectiles that weighed 617 to 1,000 pounds, respectively.  Two steel control towers were later built to improve the aiming of the guns.

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Directly behind the gun placements is the moat, which now looks like a beautiful pond.

With the construction of Fort Salisbury near Milford, Delaware shortly before WWI, Fort Mott, Fort Delaware, and Fort DuPont became obsolete.  All three forts remained active defense installations until after WWII, when they were phased out.  Troops were regularly stationed at Fort Mott from 1897 to 1922.  The federal government then maintained a caretaking detachment at the fort from 1922 to 1943.  During this time Fort Mott’s guns were dismantled and sent to various locations.  The State of New Jersey bought Fort Mott in 1947 from the federal government to create a historic site.

Fort Mott State Park is located on Cemetery Road and also features the Finn’s Point Interpretive Trail through the Killcohook Wildlife Refuge.  You can take the trail to learn more about New Jersey habitats or remain on Cemetery Road which ends at Finn’s Point National Cemetery (dedicated as such in 1873). 

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I snapped this beautiful butterfly on our hike towards Finn’s Point National Cemetery.

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A Sweet Gum successional swamp forest on the Finn’s Point Interpretive Trail at Fort Mott State Park.

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This tree had to have been planted when this cemetery was dedicated in 1873.  It’s trunk is so wide that my husband and kids couldn’t lock hands and wrap themselves around it.  They only reached halfway around!

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The domed monument memorializes the 135 Union soldiers that died serving their duty at Pea Patch Island (Fort Delaware), 30 of which were never identified prior to burial.

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This monument memorializes the nearly 2,500 Confederate soldiers that died while confined on Pea Patch Island.  Conditions were so bad towards the end of the Civil War that the name was recognized with fear as a place you didn’t want to get sent as a POW.  There were 12,500 soldiers confined as POWs at the fort which was meant to hold only 10,000 at that time.

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This was our last glimpse of Fort Mott State Park and New Jersey when we left on the ferry yesterday afternoon.  You can see one of the towers used to aim the guns as well as a few of the ammunition magazines and a battery on the far right.

To learn more about this site and/or get more information for your visit, visit www.njparksandforests.org.

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Mom of 2, always busier than I need to be. Entrepreneur & writer. I'm creative, down-to-earth, and spunky but I can sometimes over-analyze, be excessively generous, and be hyper-efficient. I guess there are worse things to be. :)

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