Battery Zook is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery in present-day Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It was built during the Endicott Period and was originally equipped with three 6-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 Disappearing carriages.
Battery Zook Establishment
Masonry forts and smoothbore cannons were rendered obsolete by improvements in weapons made during the Civil War. In order to create a modern defense system, the US government launched the Endicott Board in 1885. The Endicott system was constructed between 1890 and 1910, and some of its components were still in use in 1945. Nowadays, this time period is known as the Endicott Period.
During the Endicott Period, the government examined the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay and made a number of recommendations for improvements. The Army decided to officially establish Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, Rhode Island in the year 1900. There were dozens of structures built on Fort Wetherill including Battery Zook.
Funds for this battery were appropriated for this battery in 1903 and construction began in May of 1903. The battery was completed in November 1904 at a cost of just over $81,000. It was transferred to the Coast Artillery and put into use on May 7, 1908. The guns at Battery Zook were three 6-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 Disappearing carriages. Although many Endicott Period batteries were two stories tall, Battery Zook was a single-story battery. The M1903 guns were mounted on raised platforms accessed by stairs. Two magazines adjacent to the gun platforms stored the shells. There is a fire control tower near the center of the battery.
This battery was named after Bvt. Major General Samuel K. Zook of the U.S. Volunteers. He died on July 3, 1863, of wounds received in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the U.S. Civil War.
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 mobile carriages. The majority of the dismantled cannon tubes were either remounted or left at the arsenals until they were required elsewhere, most never made it to Europe. The order to demount Battery Zook’s guns for duty abroad was given on August 24, 1917. On November 27, 1917, the guns were transported to the Watervliet Arsenal in New York. In accordance with the 1920 Disarmament Program, the carriages were ordered to be destroyed on May 26, 1920. The battery was then abandoned.
What Remains Today
Today, the battery is located in Fort Wetherill State Park which opened to the public in 1972. The battery sits directly in the middle of 4 other gun batteries. It is often the first structure visitors see when visiting Fort Wetherill. Visitors are welcome to walk on top of the Battery Zook and also within it. As of 2023, many of the doors are open and stairways allow people to explore all levels. This is an abandoned structure, so it is extremely important to be careful while exploring. The battery is mostly covered in graffiti.
Fort Wetherill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972, and this listing includes Battery Zook.
- Year Built: 1904
- Year Abandoned: 1920
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with three 6-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 Disappearing carriages
- National Register of Historic Places: #72000021
Battery Zook Location
- Address: Fort Wetherill Road
- Town: Jamestown
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: 41.478444, -71.366472
- Parking Notes: Fort Wetherill has ample parking. There are several parking areas and hundreds of spots. The first parking lot is closest to Battery Zook. Entrance to the park is free year-round.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE