Posted By auntie on February 26, 2014
3.22 miles 2.4 mph
whew, it was some friggin’ cold today on the beach, with the wind whipping into my face. i very nearly decided it wasn’t worth the pain, and the snot pouring out of my nose, and the frozen fingers. but i am what some might call a bit stubborn, so i persisted. eventually i warmed up, and eventually, my nose faucet turned off, and my fingers thawed out, and i ended up really, really enjoying this walk.
i’ve walked napatree point before, enticed in part by the description in ken weber’s books about the old, abandoned fort on the point:
“When you finally reach a jumble of large rocks in the water near the point’s end, follow a sand path uphill into a thicket of blackberries, bittersweet, and other bushes on the ridge and you’ll find something most of the summertime visitors know nothing about, the remains of Fort Mansfield.
“The fort was built around the turn of the century but almost immediately was found to be indefensible and soon was abandoned and eventually dismantled. All that remains now are a few graffiti-marred low walls and concrete steps, a room or two, and the round holes for the gun turrets, all hidden from shoreline view by the vines and bushes.”
that’s from his book weekend walks in rhode island, first edition, published in 1986. i dunno, maybe the path was more obvious in 1986, but by 2012, when i first started looking for it, it was not in any way obvious. i started following a couple game trails off the beach that petered out into brambles and brush, and i got paranoid about ticks, and just kind of wrote it off.
today it crossed my mind again when i was trying to come up with someplace un-snowy to walk, and i thought i’d give it another try. but this time, i first visited my old pal, mr. google. here’s what i found when i used the satellite view in google maps:
google maps view of fort
okay, so i had no way of knowing how old this photo was, or whether the logs would still be there or not, but it gave me a little more to go on than ken’s description. and believe us when both ken and i tell you that you cannot see this from the beach.
well, sure enough, both the big driftwood logs in the aerial view were there. even knowing where the path had to be, it took me a few minutes to find it, but once i did, i was all set, and it was a matter of minutes before i finally set foot on the fort.
this is actually the second gun emplacement, which the topo map on my gaia gps app told me was “battery crawford.” the first part of the fort you come to is “battery wooster.” i think. hard to say, looking at the map on my iPhone.
here’s a panorama of the big part of the fort you can see in the google aerial view, taken from battery crawford. as always, click to embiggen.
panorama of fort mansfield
up close, it’s kind of seedy and creepy looking. i couldn’t see any easy way to get down to the level where the tunnels were, and strangely, i wasn’t particularly tempted to explore them.
i believe there are photos taken inside the tunnels somewhere out on the web, and if you’re curious, you can use mr. google to find them. they just don’t look too appealing to me.
on the way back, i saw this guy out standing on the rocks. he was wearing a wet suit. i didn’t stop to say hi because i figured he was standing on slippery rocks in the water, and i didn’t want to startle him. wonder what he was hoping to catch, besides pneumonia?
you can find napatree point in the hikefinder.