Fort Greble Observation Tower

Dutch Island, Jamestown, Rhode Island
In the midst of Dutch Island’s serene wilderness, off Jamestown, Rhode Island, lies the forgotten relic of the Fort Greble Observation Tower.
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About This Location

In the midst of Dutch Island’s serene wilderness, off Jamestown, Rhode Island, lies the forgotten relic of the Fort Greble Observation Tower. This abandoned tower, a silent sentinel of history, stands as a testament to the ever-evolving nature of military defense and the passage of time. Erected as part of the once-strategic Fort Greble, established in 1898 during the Endicott Period, the tower’s origins are shrouded in obscurity, much like the island it resides on.

Fort Greble, named after a Civil War artilleryman, was a product of a significant shift in military architecture. The Endicott Era, sparked by advancements in weaponry post-Civil War, saw the U.S. government abandoning traditional masonry forts in favor of new, formidable coastal defenses. Constructed between 1890 and 1910, these forts, including Fort Greble, featured the latest in artillery technology, and the observation tower was likely an integral part of this coastal defense system.

Despite its strategic importance in the early 20th century, Fort Greble, like many of its contemporaries, couldn’t keep pace with the rapid advancements in warfare. During World Wars I and II, parts of the fort were decommissioned, and its artillery was either sent overseas or deemed obsolete. By the end of World War II, Fort Greble was abandoned, leaving structures like the observation tower to the relentless forces of nature.

Today, the Fort Greble Observation Tower stands as a shell of its former self. Over eight decades of abandonment have left the tower in a state of disrepair. The stairway leading up to the observation deck has nearly vanished, victim to crumbling stone and eroding mortar. Holes puncture the walls and ceiling where bricks and concrete once held firm. This decaying structure is a poignant reminder of the impermanence of human endeavors.

Reaching this isolated tower is a journey in itself. Accessible only by boat, adventurous souls launch from Fort Getty State Park, braving the waters of Rhode Island to reach Dutch Island. The trek to the tower involves navigating through thick vegetation, a testament to nature’s reclaiming of the land. However, those who venture to this remote location are advised to admire the tower from a safe distance. The dilapidated state of the structure makes any attempt to enter or climb it perilous.

The Fort Greble Observation Tower, in its solitary decay, is not just an abandoned military outpost but a monument to a bygone era. It’s a place where history whispers tales of change and resilience, and where the echoes of the past meet the wild embrace of nature. For those seeking the thrill of exploring forgotten places, this tower is a hidden gem, offering a unique glimpse into the complexities of history and the inevitable march of time.

Location

Address: Dutch Island, Jamestown, Rhode Island
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.503806, -71.400417
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.503806, -71.400417
Parking Notes: The Fort Greble Observation Tower is located on Dutch Island off Jamestown, Rhode Island. The only way to access this abandoned tower is by boat. Kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes can be launched from nearby Fort Getty State Park which charges an entrance fee during the summer. After reaching the island, a lot of bushwhacking is required to reach The Fort Greble Observation Tower. It is not an easy structure to reach!

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