Accessible only by boat, Fort Gorges sits abandoned on an island in Portland Harbor. Built with granite in 1865, the historic structure was most recently used to store submarine mines in World War II. It was named for the colonial proprietor of Maine, Sir Fernando Gorges, and used primarily to support the nearby forts. Construction was initially expedited during the Civil War, though the development of modern explosives made the fort obsolete by its completion.
Fort Gorges’ dark halls are steeped in history and mystery, and its position on the island gives the appearance that the walls are rising out of the sea. Be on the lookout for the local harbor seals and boats which dot the water’s surface. Once you reach the island, there is a small beach and granite block pier. Perhaps the best part about exploring the fort is the incredible view of Portland’s city skyline, which can be seen from the rooftop.
Located just one mile from the shores of Portland, Fort Gorges is a short boat or kayak ride away from the city. Strong currents and heavy boat traffic can make the passage challenging, so it’s advisable to check conditions before paddling. Caution is also recommended while exploring the interior of the fort.