Battery Steele


Battery Steele is a historic coastal gun battery located on Peaks Island in Casco Bay just off Portland, Maine. It was completed in 1942 during World War 2 and abandoned after the war.

Battery Steele Establishment

Peaks Island is a uniquely situated island in Maine. It is located in Casco Bay and is just about a mile and a half off the shores of Portland, Maine. This made it a strategic position for forts to be established to defend Portland.

The Peaks Island Military Reservation was first established in 1906 as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portland. Over the years, it saw many changes. The reservation began during the Endicott Period, which last from 1890 to 1910. Under the leadership of Secretary of War William C. Endicott, US President Grover Cleveland established the Board of Fortifications in 1885 as a joint army, navy, and civilian board. This board studied the defensibility of the US and found major improvements were needed. During the Endicott Period, the government spent $127 million to increase the number of coastal defenses all around the US. During this time, the government purchased about 20 acres on Peaks Island to build a pair of searchlights and a fire control station. These fortifications were used during World War 1.

When World War 2 began, the government looked again to strengthen its defensibility and Peaks Island was once again a point of interest. The government purchased about 150 acres on the island to build a number of structures, including Battery Steele.

Construction on Battery Steele began in 1942 and it was completed in 1944. It was then transferred to the Coast Artillery for use in 1945. The battery was equipped with two 16-inch MarkII-M1 guns mounted on one M4 and one M5 Casemated Barbette Carriages. Each gun emplacement was covered by a massive concrete casemate that hung over it. 

Getting the guns to this battery was no easy task. Both of the guns were first manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, New York. They were then sent by rail to the South Portland Shipyard in Maine. From there, they were slid onto a barge and brought over to Peaks Island. Peaks Island lacked a lot of infrastructure at that time, so a specially built wharf was created for the two guns. Once arriving at the wharf, the guns were put on trailers and moved to Battery Steele. The guns were mounted in place in May of 1943.

This battery was rather unique due to the fact that it is all one story. There was a central magazine that stored shells and powder for the guns mounted on either end. In order to move the ammo to the guns, overhead tracks, and chain hoists were used. To disguise the battery, it was covered by earth.

The Battery Today

Battery Steele is a very unique structure and in 2005 it had the honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a major honor and something that rarely happens to coastal gun batteries. Being listed is a major distraction and it only happens to sites, buildings, structures, and objects found deserving of preservation for their historical importance or artistic value. One of the main reasons Battery Steele was placed on this list is because it was one of the largest coastal gun batteries built anywhere in the United States. It also played a major role in the Harbor Defenses of Portland.

Today, the battery can still be along Florida Avenue on the southern coast of Peaks Island. To get to Peaks Island, visitors can take the Peaks Island Ferry which runs from Portland to the Peaks Island Wharf. The ferry runs year-round and is operated by Casco Bay Lines. The ferry journey only takes 15 minutes and it is very reasonably priced. After arriving on the island, visitors can walk less than a mile to Battery Steele. Many of the doors into the battery are open and the public is welcome to explore!



  • Year Built: 1942
  • Year Abandoned: 1945 
  • Original Function: World War 2 coastal gun battery
  • National Register of Historic Places Number: 05001176

Battery Steele Location

  • Address: Florida Avenue
  • Town: Peaks Island
  • State: Maine
  • GPS: Lat 43.6578544 Lng -70.1812108
  • Parking notes: There is a small parking area located right off Florida Avenue. Most visitors do walk or bike to Battery Steele.
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE
What is Battery Steele on Peaks Island?

Battery Steele is a reinforced concrete gun battery. It was built during WW2 and was equipped with two 16-inch MarkII-M1 guns mounted on one M4 and one M5 Casemated Barbette Carriages.

Can I go inside Battery Steele on Peaks Island?

Yes! Many of the doors leading into Battery Steele are open. Visitors are welcome to walk inside the battery.

When was Battery Steele built?

Battery Steele was built in 1942 during World War 2. It was established on Peaks Island and was part of the Harbor Defenses of Portland.

What was Battery Steele used for?

Battery Steele was used as a coastal gun battery during World War 2. It was part of the Harbor Defenses of Portland. There were two guns mounted at Battery Steele to defend Portland.

Can I legally explore Battery Steele on Peaks Island?

Yes! Battery Steele is located on public property. Visitors are welcome to walk around and within the old gun battery.

Where is Battery Steele on Peaks Island?

Battery Steele is located right along Florida Avenue. It is less than a mile from the Peaks Island Ferry Wharf.


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