Four Forts on the Kennebec

The Four Forts of the Kennebec

During the mid-17th century, four forts, Massachusetts, and the Kennebec Proprietors constructed four forts on the central Kennebec River to secure the area and promote settlement.

Fort Richmond, 1720-1755 (Richmond, ME).
Fort Richmond was erected around 1720 and remained in use until 1755. When decommissioned, the remaining men mustered at Fort Richmond are assigned to one of the other new forts further north or released from military service. All remaining usable ordinances were also dispersed among the new forts built further north. Its last Commander, Colonel Lithgow, is reassigned as Commander of Fort Halifax. The archaeological site of Fort Richmond is located at the foot of the Richmond-Dresden Bridge. There is a small park on the Richmond side with signage explaining the significance and location of the Fort.

Fort Frankfort/Shirley 1752-1759 (Dresden, ME)

Fort Frankfort, erected in 1752 as a fortified settlement by the Kennebec Proprietors, was upgraded in 1754 and renamed Fort Shirley after the royal Governor William Shirley. It became the first leg of the supply chain on the Kennebec River for the Province of Massachusett's Fort at Taconnect Falls (Winslow), Fort Halifax. Samuel Goodwin was the Commander, of the intermittently manned Fort. When decommissioned in 1759, the Kennebec Proprietors tore down the Fort and 1761, built the Pownalborough Court House using the wood. The front lawn of the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, ME, is the archaeological site of Fort Shirley.

Fort Western 1754-1767 (Augusta, ME)

Fort Western was built in 1754 by the Kennebec Proprietors as the second leg of the supply chain to Fort Halifax. Captain James Howard, who served under Colonel Lithgow at Fort Richmond, was assigned as Commander. From the beginning, it not only served as a military Fort but also as the land office for the Kennebec Proprietors. The Fort Garrison, decommissioned in 1767, survived to this day because of its adaptable reuse. It is the oldest standing wooden French & Indian War-era garrison in the country. 

Fort Halifax, 1754-1766 (Winslow, ME)

Fort Halifax was built by the Province of Massachusetts in 1754 as the frontline of defense on the Kennebec during the French & Indian War. Its purpose was to defend and promote settlement. Once decommissioned in 1766, the province of Massachusetts sold it at public auction to Sylvester Gardiner. The old fort buildings were only intermittently used and eventually fell into disrepair. The one remaining blockhouse is the oldest standing French & Indian War-era blockhouse in the country.

The Old Fort Western Fund is the steward for all four archaeological fort collections.