Battery Garesche is an abandoned Endicott Period 6-inch coastal gun battery located in Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Battery Garesche Establishment
Portland Head Lighthouse was finished in 1791 and for many decades it stood by itself on the shores of Cape Elizabeth. But, then came the Endicott Period. A joint army, navy, and civilian board known as the Board of Fortifications was established by US President Grover Cleveland in 1885 under the direction of Secretary of War William C. Endicott. In its 1886 report, the board’s findings painted a bleak picture of the state of existing defenses. They suggested a vast $127 million construction program of breechloading cannons, mortars, floating batteries, and subsurface mines for about 29 points along the US coastline.
With the addition of the first battery in 1896, Portland Lighthouse started to take the shape of a fort. The first three batteries were established by 1898, and Fort Williams was given its formal name by 1899. Major additions, such as barracks, officers’ quarters, hospitals, and more, were made after the Army purchased additional land in 1900. After the additional acres were acquired, Battery Garesche was planned and built.
Battery Garesche was constructed from 1904 to 1906 as part of the Harbor Defense of Portland, Maine. When finished, the battery featured two 6″ M1900 guns mounted on M1903 Disappearing carriages aimed toward the ocean. The weapons were housed in a single-story battery on raised platforms, sharing a single magazine. A hand truck was used to transport shells from the magazine level to the gun-loading platform. There were no shell or powder hoists available. The central power plant or the Battery Blair power station provided the electricity.
Disarmed during World War 1
Large caliber coastal defense gun tubes were extensively removed for use in Europe as a result of the United States’ involvement in World War I. Several of the removed cannon and mortar tubes were taken to arsenals to be modified and mounted on railroad-mounted mobile carriages. The majority of the dismantled cannon tubes were either remounted or were left at the arsenals until they were required elsewhere, never making it to Europe. On August 24, 1917, the guns of Battery Garesche were ordered to be dismantled for deployment abroad. On December 1st, 1917, the guns were sent to Watervliet for modification, and cannon #45 did make it to France. During the war, the weapons were never replaced or returned, and on May 26, 1920, the carriages were eventually ordered to be salvaged.
The Battery Today
Today, Battery Garesche can be found in Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The battery can be found at the southern end of the park. Battery Garesche features no guns or mounts, but its concrete core remains. Sadly, the inside of the battery, known as the magazine, is fenced off. Visitors can enjoy walking around the structure and imagining what life was like there over a century ago.
- Year Built: 1906
- Year Abandoned: 1917
- Original Function: Reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 6-inch coastal gun battery
Battery Garesche Location
- Address: 1000 Shore Road
- Town: Cape Elizabeth
- State: Maine
- GPS: 43.620889, -70.210321
- Parking Notes: There is ample parking available at Fort Williams State Park. Parking is free in the off-season, but during the summer a small fee is charged for non-residents. Parking costs $2 an hour or $10 for a day. The closest parking area to this coastal gun battery can be found at the end of the Fort Williams access road.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE
Love Battery Garesche!
Such a cool old abandoned fort – had a blast checking out Battery Garesche!