Fort Banks: Winthrop’s abandoned relic of the Spanish-American War era

The little know abandoned ruins of Fort Banks lies in the Northern section of the town of Winthrop. This fort was built as one of earlier coastal defense outposts around Boston Harbor.  Designed in response to the new threat of powerfully armed battleships that were created around the time of the Spanish American War, the fort was made to be able to repel a foreign naval attack. Its defenses included massive cannons with great capabilities. Fort Banks was constructed around the time that many other Boston Fortifications were built or re-armed, but only a fraction of the Fort’s original grounds remain today:


The view above shows the remains of one of the excavated mortar pits- clearly in rough shape following years of neglect. The other pits were demolished and built over, as the fort was previously much larger. Here is a photo of the fort in the early part of WWII.

While the fort was first built in 1891, the first of the giant cannons arrived in 1907. Described as a “steel monster” by the Boston Daily Globe* upon its arrival in October of that year, the gun was 40 feet long and weighed 60 tons. It required 48 horses to draw, and citizens were reportedly concerned that the move would damage the town’s streets.

Below is a photo of the sign giving an overview of the fort:

boston harbor

Below is a photo of battery Sanford Kellogg, named after a veteran of the Civil War. It is the last remaining battery at the remains of the fort. Nearby, a memorial post outlines a tragic accident that occurred at the fort on October 15, 1904: During a firing practice with live ammunition, a mortar backfired resulting in the deaths of four men and the severe injury of nine others.


A strange structure which exists on the top of the fort, not clearly visible in the WWI era aerial photo in the link above:


A view of the top of the fort looking down from a different angle. Note the circular outline of the mortar platforms, now filled in with weeds.

boston harbor

Fort Bank is just another example of a fort defending Boston’s waterfront from foreign aggression. It is clear from the great degree of military capability surrounding the Eastern perimeter of the city of Boston that there was a great fear of naval invasion at the beginning of the 20th century.

A modern view of Winthrop from the air, on final approach to Logan Airport:


* “Huge Gun Arrives in East Boston on Way to Fort Banks, Winthrop” Boston Daily Globe, October 20, 1907.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Boston Harbor History, Boston Harbor in the Winter, Boston Harbor Navigation, historical place of the week, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.