On Route 1B, New Castle
Picnicking, interpretive center
Schedule: Limited hours contact Regional office
of Campsites: None
State Historic Site is located on a peninsula historically called Jerry's
Point on the southeast corner of New Castle Island. It overlooks the
Piscataqua River, Little Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Fort Stark was
named in honor of John Stark, commander of New Hampshire forces at the
Battle of Bennington (1777). It is one of seven forts built to protect
Portsmouth Harbor. The others in New Hampshire are: Fort Washington,
Fort William and Mary (Constitution), and Fort Dearborn (Odiorne Point
State Park), and in Maine: Fort Sullivan, Fort McClary and Fort Foster.
forts were built to protect the colonists. As Portsmouth Harbor's importance
increased with its Revolutionary War shipbuilding industry and the establishment
of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1800, additional fortification was
Point there is evidence of earthwork fortification, circa 1842, and
a stonework fort, circa 1873. Following the Spanish American War (1898)
the improved defense of key harbors became a national priority. Fortifications
such as Fort Stark were constructed on both coasts during the Endicott
Period (1890-1920) and at Forts Constitution, McClary and Foster. The
basic defense concept was to mine the harbor entrances and erect gun
batteries. No shots were ever fired in anger.
coastal fortification occurred during World War II (WWII) when batteries
were added to Fort Foster, and Fort Dearborn was constructed. The five
remaining forts are obsolete and today are considered historic sites
or parks which are open to the public. Following World War II the navy
took over the army installations and used Fort Stark primarily for reserve
training until the property was deeded to the state of New Hampshire
in 1978 and 1983.
Visiting the Site
A visitor center, located in the old mines building, is open by appointment
only. Arrangements to have it open may be made by calling the N.H. Division
of Parks and Recreation's East Region staff at 603/436-1552 prior to
a visit. A walking trail traverses the ten-acre fort site. There are
no camping facilities.
visit with caution! Fort Stark is a former military installation. Beware
of dangers of unprotected stairs, high walls, rough ground and slippery
rocks. Adult supervision of children is required.