Fort Western opens for the 2023 Tour Season on Saturday, May 27, 2023
The Fort Western 2023 Fort Tour season will open on May 27, 2023. Saturday, May 27, will showcase the 1628 Pilgrim Trading Post, located just south of Fort Western. Regular Fort Hours will be 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, with ongoing tours of the Fort. In addition to Fort tours, there will be stations devoted to teaching about the Pilgrim's presence on the Kennebec and the strategic significance of the location of Cushnoc in the history of the Kennebec River and Maine. From 10:00 am-3:00 pm, Leon Cranmer, a retired Historic Archaeologist from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission who did the excavation of Cushnoc, will be on hand to discuss the archaeological site in our new Cushnoc Exhibit room. Lee's reprinted book, "Cushnoc: The History and Archaeology of Plymouth Colony Traders on the Kennebec," will be available for sale. Old Fort Western Staff will discuss the History of Cushnoc and its importance to Fort Western, demonstrate trade among the Pilgrims and the Native Abenaki using reproduced items, and discuss the reconstruction plans. Finally, Dr. Walter Powell and Steve Mattern of the New Plimmoth Gard will present "John Alden, Murderer? The Affair at Cushnoc" and demonstrate matchlock musket firings and exhibit a table display.
Fort Western, built in 1754 as part of the Massachusetts military and settlement expansion into the Kennebec River Valley, has survived because of its ability to be adapted and reused. During the French and Indian War, provincial soldiers stationed at the Fort under the command of Captain James Howard kept the peace and were an integral part of the supply chain to Fort Halifax. The S & W Howard Store, established in 1767, was initially located in the old Fort garrison and operated until 1807. The store catered to the early settlers of "Hallowell" (Hallowell, Augusta, Sidney, Chelsea, Manchester) as well became the political center of the area hosting early "Hallowel" town meetings. It was the staging area for the Arnold Expedition in 1775. It has also served as a private home and tenement. During its 269-year history, it has played a central role in founding Hallowell, Augusta, and the Central Kennebec River region.