Fort Halifax (Maine)

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Fort Halifax
Fort Halifax
Fort Halifax (Maine) is located in Maine
Fort Halifax (Maine)
Location On U.S. 201 west of Winslow, Winslow, Maine
Coordinates 44°32′5″N 69°37′47″W / 44.53472°N 69.62972°W / 44.53472; -69.62972Coordinates: 44°32′5″N 69°37′47″W / 44.53472°N 69.62972°W / 44.53472; -69.62972
Built 1754-1755
Architect Unknown
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 68000015
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 24, 1968[1]
Designated NHL November 24, 1968[2]

Fort Halifax was a British colonial outpost built during the French and Indian War on the Kennebec River at modern-day Winslow, Maine. It is now a National Historic Landmark.

French and Indian War[edit]

Interior of the blockhouse
Fort Halifax (1936)

Fort Halifax was a fort on the north bank of the Sebasticook River. (It had previously been the location of the native Fort Taconnet or Taconock, which natives burned upon the approach of Major Benjamin Church during King William's War.[3] ) Its blockhouse, which survives, is the oldest blockhouse in the United States.[2] (The oldest blockhouse in North America is Fort Edward). It was part of a garrison built by the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1754-1756 at the outset of the French and Indian War. On July 25, 1754, Major General John Winslow arrived with a force of 600 soldiers to establish the fort at the confluence of the Kennebec River with the Sebasticook River. (William Shirley was also on this expedition.[4]) The palisaded defense was intended to prevent Canadiens and their Native American allies from using the Kennebec River valley as a route to attack English settlements. Further, Massachusetts was extending its border into the former region of Acadia and threatening the capital of Canada, Quebec.

Fort Richmond was dismantled in 1755 when Fort Shirley (named after William Shirley, also called Frankfort, located in present-day Dresden), Fort Western and Fort Halifax were built upriver.

In 1754, Fort Halifax was built by order of the Massachusetts General Court on the peninsula at the confluence of the Sebasticook and Kennebec rivers. A settlement subsequently sprang up under its protection, and was named in honor of Major-General John Winslow, of Marshfield, Massachusetts who had overseen the fort's construction.[5]

The Natives raided the fort in the fall of 1754.[6][7]

In 1755, the commanding officer, Captain William Lithgow, discontinued Major-General Winslow's original plan for the fort, citing limited manpower and expense. The fort was made smaller and more defensible and was completed in 1756.[8] The Canadiens immediately made plans to destroy the fort.[9][10] In May 1756, the natives attacked soldiers from the fort.[11]

In 1756, near Topshee, Col Lithgow and a party of 8 men were ambushed by 17 natives, both sides suffering the loss of two men. The natives later killed two more white men in the area.[12]

American Revolution[edit]

In September 1775, Fort Halifax hosted troops under Colonel Benedict Arnold on their expedition to Quebec City. At the end of the American Revolution, most of Fort Halifax was dismantled. By the early 1800s, only the blockhouse on the Sebasticook still stood. Later in the century, tourists visited the fort, especially railway passengers and students from Colby College. These guests carved chunks of wood from the blockhouse as souvenirs.[13]

19th - 20th Century[edit]

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ownership of Fort Halifax blockhouse changed hands numerous times. From 1924 to 1966, the Fort Halifax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution owned the blockhouse and was responsible for its upkeep.[14] Since then, it has been owned by the Maine State Parks and Public Lands.[15]

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1968.[2][16]

On April 1, 1987, a severe flood dismantled the blockhouse. Twenty-two original logs were recovered, some of them found as far south as forty miles. The blockhouse was reconstructed on its original site in 1988. That fall, the rebuilt blockhouse was dedicated in a ceremony that drew hundreds of guests.[8][17]

The Town of Winslow in 2011 drafted plans to rebuild some of the fort and to expand and improve interpretive displays, trails, and recreational opportunities at the site.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b c "Fort Halifax". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  3. ^ p. 215, p.225
  4. ^
  5. ^ General Winslow was a descendant of Edward Winslow, a Pilgrim governor of Plymouth Colony who arrived on the Mayflower and founded the town of Marshfield. General Winslow lived in the mansion built in 1699 by his father, Isaac Winslow. The historic Winslow House still stands today in Marshfield and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  6. ^
  7. ^ p. 302
  8. ^ a b Maine Memory Network Exhibit - Fort Halifax
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ The History of Augusta, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time ... By James W. North p.66
  12. ^ p.5
  13. ^ Fort Halifax: One Stop on the Way to Quebec
  14. ^ Deed for Fort Halifax, from Daughters of the American Revolution to State of Maine (1966)
  15. ^ Fort Halifax on the Kennebec - Northern Outpost for the Massachusetts Bay Colony
  16. ^ Polly M. Rettig and Charles W. Snell (January 31, 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort Halifax Blockhouse" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying three photos, exterior, from 1975 and 1988 PDF (32 KB)
  17. ^ Fort Halifax on the Kennebec - Northern Outpost for the Massachusetts Bay Colony
  18. ^ Fort Halifax Park Concept Master Plan (2011)


Further reading[edit]

  • Tortora, Daniel J. (2014). Fort Halifax: Winslow's Historic Outpost. Charleston, S.C.: The History Press. ISBN 1626192928. 

External links[edit]