Fort Western was built in 1754 by Gershom Flagg & Sons for the Kennebec Proprietors. As its strategic location is at the Head of Tide, it served as the main stop of the supply chain to Fort Halifax. Its purpose was also to encourage the settlement of central Kennebec by securing peace in the region. Its use as a French & Indian War Fort ended in 1767 when the Fort was decommissioned and purchased by Capt. James Howard. The standing garrison has served many uses in its 268 years of existence: Fort; Howard & his descendants home (1767-1852); S & W Howard Store (1767-1807); and a Tenement (1852-1920). Fort Western had a minor role in the American Revolution and was a staging area for Benedict Arnolds March to Quebec. After the renovation in 1920-1921, it opened as a museum in 1922.
Excavations at Fort Western began in 1974 when Bruce Bourque of the Maine State Museum excavated 17 units around the original garrison. In 1979 and 1981, Dr. Bob Bradley excavated a series of trenches around the perimeter of the Fort garrison. However, the major excavation was done in 1983 by Theodore Bradstreet and Emerson Baker. This excavation determined the size and placement of the palisade lines, as well as uncovered the powder magazine. Follow-up archaeological excavations were in 1984 and 1988. Since then, only small archaeological excavations have been done before building projects or palisade replacement.
Map inserts are from the Thomas Johnston Map, dated 1754 from the Massachusetts Archives