New Castle, New Hampshire: Fort Dearborn, Decoy Ship BuildingFort with a decoy ship outline facing the harbor, built to fool Nazi subs or planes so they wouldn't attack the legit shipping facilities elsewhere.
- Wild Rose Lane, New Castle, NH
- Take Hwy 1B/Wentworth Rd east, turn right on Wild Rose Lane (not well marked) to Fort Stark State Historical Site.
- Visitor center open by appt. only. (Call to verify)
Visitor Tips and News About Fort Dearborn, Decoy Ship Building
The decoy ship illusion falls apart up close, but abandoned military coastal batteries and structures are always worth a wander.
Quite a quiet site. Fort Stark is across the way.[James, 04/22/2012]
This defunct military installation is situated on the grounds of what is now Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NH, off Route 1A. Fort Dearborn was born of necessity -- to assist in the protection of the New Hampshire and Maine coastlines during World War II, when German subs coming into US waters was a very real threat. The land, once owned by a prominent Rye family, was taken by eminent domain, and the installation went up in no time -- underground bunkers, ammo dumps, antiaircraft gun turrets, you name it. After the war most of the facility was dismantled and the land ceded to the state, which opened it to the public after sealing off the remaining structures. Visitors can walk a maze of paths and pass though the bunker's doors. You can't get into the bunkers, but you can peer in to see the long narrow corridors with the rails embedded in the ceiling for moving around equipment and ammo. Bring a flashlight. The antiaircraft gun turrets and the watch towers are still accessible too. All of this sits on a stunning piece of coastline.
If you travel a couple miles north up 1-A and take a right onto Wild Rose Lane, it will bring you to another fort. This one is managed by the Park Service and there is an admission price, but it's noteworthy for the "decoy" built facing the harbor. It was designed to look like a ship so that in case subs or planes did indeed attack the important Portsmouth Naval Shipyard slightly north, they might be diverted and gain time for the military to launch a counterattack.
Go another couple of miles up the road from that and you'll come to Ft. William & Mary, a pre-colonial fort designed to protect the Portsmouth Harbor. A Coast guard installation is based there but you can still walk around.
You can continue up the Maine coast and there are several forts withing three to five miles of each other, all designed to provide protection to that part of the New England coast. Great day trip for kids, they can climb around the ruins and actually learn some history.[Michael J. Curtiss, 05/02/2001]