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FORT MANSFIELD, Rhode Island

 

By

 

Gary B. Speck

 FORT MANSFIELD, Washington County, Rhode Island, is now a class B site and is located on the beach at Watch Hill, on Napatree Point. It was a subpost of Fort H.G. Wright on Fishers Island, NY, and was established during the Spanish-American War to help guard the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound.  It was active from 1898-1917. Some of the gun batteries located here include: Battery Wooster (1901 - 1917), Battery Crawford (1901 - 1917), and Battery Connell (1901 - 1917), which is submerged in the surf due to a hurricane in 1938. 

 

The following information was submitted by Ian Kiss of Rhode Island.  Thanks Ian for the great information.

 

While browsing your Rhode Island listings I noticed you had Avondale listed. I used to work in Avondale. Just beyond Avondale is Watch Hill, RI. Literally about 3 minutes further down the road. Watch Hill itself isn't nearly a ghost, however Napatree Point that extends into the ocean at Watch Hill is very much a ghost. About a 100 years ago or so there used to be a road down the point that lead to a military fort. The road was lined with large barracks and some wealthy summer homes. Anyways it was all wiped out by a hurricane in the early 1900's. The storm pushed the structures on the point out into the water. However, at the end of the point the fort remains buried in the sand; tunnels and all.

 

The Westerly Library (Westerly, RI) has a great deal of information on the fort and the rest of the point stored away in their archives (including diagrams, etc...), but strangely not many people in the area seem to know anything about it. The point is at least a mile or two long and is all beach, sand dunes and beach grass. There are a few trails, but the easiest way is just to hike down the beach. I always found it amusing to hike out there and see people on the beach right next to it and totally unaware of its existence. The dunes do a fabulous job hiding it as the dunes cover all the outer walls. There are several rooms, tunnels, underground corridors and several locked rusted iron doors that everyone has been dying to see what’s inside. Over the years many things have been unearthed along the whole point, from antique household items to old pieces of weapons near the fort.

 

The entire point is open to the public however there is a private beach club at the beginning of the point that always tries to tell everyone they own the whole thing. (The town made the club rebuild a fence to allow people public access to the point).

 

I had done some research on the community that used to exist there and according to the fort's layout diagrams there may be large portions of the fort underwater, untouched since the destruction of the point. Also many things from the houses have been pulled out of the water over the years. Might be a little treasure hunting there.”

 

The quiet remains of Fort Mansfield invite exploration, but PLEASE respect the site for what it is, and abide by any posted signs and local requirements.  When you do visit, please follow the Ghost Towner’s Code of Ethics.   

 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for Apr/May, 2006.

 

 

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FIRST POSTED:  April 08, 2006

LAST UPDATED: June 03, 2006

 

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