Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Fort Worden State Park - Artillery Hill - Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Bob LOVES Fort Worden State Park on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington for the history, the scenery, the beach, the lighthouse, the exercise, and the Volksmarch. We've never camped here, but we have visited a few times. 

Today, we plan to do the 10 km Artillery Hill Walk in Fort Worden. The walk is on well-groomed trails with some moderate hill and stair climbing. The Olympic Peninsula Explorers Volkssport Club's description of this walk states:

"Enjoy the military history and beauty of Fort Worden - featuring 100 historic structures and miles of saltwater shoreline - with spectacular views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and the San Juan Islands."

After parking, we walked along Officers' Row. Tents and barracks were fine for enlisted men. However, officers required more adequate quarters in keeping with their greater military status. Fort Worden was considered a prestigious command post, and only the best of the best officers were posted here.

This row of nine stately buildings, each completed in 1904, merely hints at the lifestyles of officers and their families. Marble washbasins, pressed tin ceilings, and fancy woodwork were among the decorative features found in these fine homes. Today, the ornately furnished Commanding Officer's Quarters is a museum open to the public seasonally.

The other houses on Officers' Row have been owned and managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission since the 1950s. They can be rented for vacations, family reunions, and conferences, whether for a day or a week. 

Officers' Row overlooking the parade ground,
Fort Worden State Park, Washington.

"Fort Worden was part of a national commitment to fortification that was more extensive, more elaborate, more powerful, and more complex than anything that had gone before. It was built at a time of constant technological change when there seemed to be no limit to what might be devised for the military practices of attack and defense." -David M. Hansen, Historic Preservation Office, Washington State Parks.

Looking across the parade ground from Officers' Row.

Officers' Row at Fort Worden.

Behind these fort buildings is Artillery Hill.

Commanding Officer's Quarters (now a museum).

In 1896, the U.S. Congress approved construction of new military installations to guard the entrance to Puget Sound. Work soon began on Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and Fort Casey, forming a "Deadly Triangle" to create an overlapping field of stationary cannon fire through which no enemy ship could pass unscathed.

By the early 1900s with rapidly changing military tactics, stationary cannons were no longer effective against fast, thick-hulled ships and high-flying aircraft. One by one, the more than 100 stationary cannons were dismantled and the forts transformed into training centers.

From Officers' Way, we walked downhill on Harbor Defense Way past the campground, and toward the lighthouse. Before the lighthouse, we turned to visit Battery Vicars and Battery Kinzie.

The beach at Fort Worden.

Beautiful views of Puget Sound today!

Coastal trees along the Puget Sound.

Battery Kinzie.

Battery Kinzie.

Fort Worden State Park Campground.

We walked
 back along Harbor Defense Way the way we came but turned uphill on Bliss Vista Trail just past the small market and Port Townsend Marine Science Center. We walked through more of the fort along Battery Way.

Bliss Vista Trail

A state park trail map.

Once we passed the buildings of the main fort, we followed a road uphill quite a distance to a trail to "Memory's Vault." Memory's Vault is a work of art created through the efforts of the artist, individuals, and state agencies working collectively to mark in a new way an important place in Washington's history. It is a place for contemplation - of nature, of man and his intentions at Fort Worden.

Memory's Vault was built in 1988 by Richard Turner, and poetry by Sam Hamill. I found this area to be perfect for its intended use. The top of the hill here is forested, quiet, and secluded. I read quite a few of the poems which are scattered about on stone pillars.

On this site stood the barracks which housed members of the Army Corps of Engineers, who from 1898 to 1907 were responsible for the design and construction of the artillery batteries at Fort Worden. The concrete vault in which the plans for the batteries were kept is all that remains of the original structure. 

The original bunker is on the left.

We spent 10-15 minutes reading poetry and looking around. Next, we headed on a trail to the viewpoint at Alexander's Point.

Alexander's Point overlooking Fort Worden from
Artillery Hill.

For the next 40-45 minutes, we traipsed all over Artillery Hill to look at bunkers and batteries, command posts, gun lines, and a radar building. The amount of concrete used to build all the structures boggles the mind! I don't think we saw it all on the walk. We got a little bit lost and saw even more! 

What's even more mind-boggling is that all of this construction, the manpower, and the dollars to build Artillery Hill went to waste, except to use this for a training site. Well, not all of it went to provided much-needed jobs and demand for war-time products to be built. 

This site never saw a hostile conflict, no ships were battered in Puget Sound in the "Deadly Triangle." That's a good thing because war did not hit our shore here, but it's a two-edged sword.

War is like that. War can create a wasteland, not only in money and supplies, but also in wasted dreams, wasted lives, wasted land, wasted cities, and wasted innocence. Look at Ukraine, look at Palestine/Israel. But I digress. Back to the walk.

Let's take a look at the concrete bunkers, etc. on Artillery Hill. Wow, just wow!

This is Battery Powell. Battery Brannan looks like
its twin.

Bob is in front of Battery Randol. There are
three batteries in this line.

"Deadly Triangle" is also called "Triangle of Fire."

Triangle of Fire.

Glacier Peak - 10,541' - in the Baker-
Snoqualmie National Forest.

Overlooking Puget Sound.

Looking back at Batteries Ash, Quarls, and Randol.

A great view of my honey and Point
Wilson Lighthouse.

A fire in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
on August 18, 2023. (Actually, there was more than one!)

The views from the top of Artillery Hill are gorgeous on a clear day. Also, there are so many historical markers up on the hill that you feel like you're getting a great history lesson while you're hiking around!

One of the more interesting and unique places on the hill is the huge searchlight. The photos will tell the story.

The searchlight building.

They moved the searchlight along this
track to the edge of the cliff.

Looking straight down at the beach from the 
searchlight platform.

The track back to the building.

We finished up our 10 km walk hiking down the opposite of the hill through a forest and hooked up with the Peace Mile Trail. That got us into the vicinity of the Fort Worden Military Cemetery. It was a short jaunt from the Peace Mile Trail to check out the cemetery and pay our respects.

Fort Worden Military Cemetery.

Fort Worden Military Cemetery.

We had a short walk back to our truck from the cemetery. The Bayview restaurant in Port Townsend was our choice for dinner. They have wonderful food, stellar service, and an almost 180-degree view of Puget Sound and the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal. I absolutely love their grilled cod. Bob loves their fish & chips (either cod or halibut), and their big salads, usually with salmon on top.

If you know us well, you know that wasn't the end of our day. Oh, no! We went to a drive-in movie theater for a double feature: "Barbie" and "No Hard Feelings." Barbie played first and I slept through most of the movie, not because I didn't like it, but because I was exhausted. I had already seen "No Hard Feelings," and I stayed awake for that one. Oh, well. I'll have to see "Barbie" another time.

We had another fantastic day on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic Peninsula Explorers Volkssport Club, we appreciate the great variety of walks you sponsor. Thank you for mapping these walks so we can see miles of your stunning scenery.

One tired TravelBug signing out.

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