Battery 204

Rye, New Hampshire
The abandoned Battery 204 at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire, stands as a remarkable piece of World War II history.
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About This Location

Battery 204 at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire, stands as a remarkable piece of World War II history, nestled within the scenic landscape of the present-day park. Long before Odiorne Point became a state park, it was home to Fort Dearborn, established at the onset of World War II to bolster the protection of Portsmouth Harbor. With existing forts unable to accommodate the need for increased defense, Fort Dearborn was strategically positioned between Odiorne’s Point and Frost Point in Rye.

Establishing Fort Dearborn To Defend Portsmouth

The construction of Fort Dearborn began in 1942, and it underwent significant development. The initial battery, known as Battery Dearborn, housed four 155 mm towed guns on circular concrete platforms called “Panama mounts,” some of which still exist today. In 1944, the imposing Battery Seaman was constructed, featuring two massive 16″ MarkII-M1 guns mounted on M5 Casemated Barbette Carriages. It was during this period that Battery 204, a reinforced concrete coastal gun battery, was also completed.

Building Battery 204

Battery 204, a testament to engineering prowess, was built in January 1943 and became operational in September 1944. This coastal gun battery was equipped with two 6″ T2-M1 rapid-fire guns mounted on M3 Shielded Barbette Carriages (SBC), positioned on either side of an earth-covered, reinforced concrete magazine and support structure. Power was supplied by internal generators and commercial power. These formidable 6″ guns could fire a 105-pound armor-piercing projectile over 15 miles at a rate of up to 5 rounds per minute, all while being shielded to protect the gun crews.

These coastal gun batteries were part of a broader effort to replace outdated Endicott Period Batteries, with 87 planned but only 45 completed, many of which were finished late in the war (1944-1945).

Deactivation Of Battery 204 And Its New Purpose

Battery 204 was officially deactivated in 1948, yet it found a new purpose during the Cold War when it was used as Rye Air Force Station from 1955 to 1957, hosting a TPS-1D radar on top of the battery. Subsequently, from 1957 to June 1968, the site served as an unmanned FPS-14 gap-filler radar station associated with North Truro Air Force Station.

Abandonment And Re-Development

Following its military service, Battery 204 was abandoned once more. It remained sealed off, with the Seacoast Science Center utilizing the interior for storage. While the battery’s interior is inaccessible to the public, visitors are welcome to explore the exterior, with a stairway allowing them to stand atop this historic structure.

In 1961, the federal government transferred 137 acres of the fort to the state of New Hampshire for $91,000, with the stipulation that the land be used for public recreation. After minimal maintenance and improvement efforts, the park finally opened in July 1972, welcoming visitors to the historic site.

Visiting Battery 204 Today

Today, Battery 204 is easily accessible, adjacent to the primary parking area at Odiorne Point State Park, just off Ocean Boulevard in Rye, New Hampshire. While parking is free during the off-season, a parking fee is charged in the summer when the park is a popular destination on sunny days. Visitors can take in the historical significance of the battery and enjoy the scenic surroundings. Amenities at the park include bathrooms, a playground, picnic tables, and visitors center.

It’s important to note that pets are not permitted in the park year-round, but service dogs are allowed.

Location

Address: 570 Ocean Boulevard, Rye, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 43.044750, -70.715056
Parking GPS Coordinates: 43.044750, -70.715056
Parking Notes: There is a large paved parking lot located to the east of Battery 204. There is also a large dirt parking lot to the west. Both parking lots are a stone’s throw away from the fort. Parking is free in the off-season and the lots never fill up. In the summer though, there is a parking fee charged and it is a popular park on sunny and warm days.

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