Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens was an American military installation that guarded the mouth of the Columbia River in the state of Oregon. Built near the end of the American Civil War, it was named for slain Civil War general and former Washington Territory governor, Isaac Stevens. The fort was an active military reservation from 1863–1947. The fort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Civil War

Constructed in 1863-64 during the Civil War as an earthwork battery, located on the south shore of the mouth of the Columbia River. It was originally called Fort at Point Adams. It was later named Fort Stevens in honor of the former territorial governor of Washington, Isaac I. Stevens who was killed in action during the Civil War. Fort Stevens was the primary military installation in what became the Three Fort Harbor Defense System at the mouth of the Columbia River. The other two forts in the system were Post at Cape Disappointment, later Fort Cape Disappointment and later Fort Canby built at the same time as Fort Stevens and Fort Columbia (built between 1896 and 1904) both on the Washington side of the river. The fort was built to defend the mouth of the Columbia from potential British attack during ongoing regional tensions related to the Pig War of 1859–70 in the San Juan Islands, and remained relevant during the 1896-1903 Alaska Boundary Dispute when British-American tensions were high and once again on the brink of war.

Peter Iredale

In 1906, the crew of the sailing ship Peter Iredale sought refuge at the fort after Peter Iredale's captain ran her aground on Clatsop Spit. The wreck is still visible today within the present-day boundaries of Fort Stevens State Park.

World War II

On the nights of June 21 and 22, 1942, a Japanese submarine fired 17 shells at Fort Stevens, making it the only military installation in the continental United States to receive hostile fire during World War II (the Japanese submarine shelling at the oil fields in Santa Barbara, California was not considered a military installation). The attack caused no damage to the fort itself. The backstop for the post's baseball field was the only casualty. Fort Stevens and its gun batteries protected the river until shortly after World War II, and was decommissioned in 1947. All armament was scrapped and buildings went into auction. The grounds were transferred to the custody of the Corps of Engineers for many years until being turned over to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

State park

Fort Stevens is preserved within Fort Stevens State Park, part of Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. The 3,700 acres (15 km2) park includes camping, beach access, swimming at Coffenbury Lake, trails, and a military history museum.

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