Following the War of 1812, the United States Army Corps of
Engineers proposed that a fort be built on Hog Island Ledge, in Casco
Bay at the entrance to the harbor at Portland, Maine. Named for the
colonial proprietor of Maine, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, it was
constructed to support existing forts, including Fort Preble in South
Portland and Fort Scammel built on nearby House Island in 1808.
Congress, however, did not fund construction of Fort Gorges until
1857. The walls of the fort were begun the next year, and when the
American Civil War broke out in 1861, work quickly advanced.
The fort was designed by Colonel Reuben Staples Smart. The chief
architect in charge of construction was Thomas Lincoln Casey, who
later became Chief of Engineers. It is similar in size and
construction to Fort Sumter, but is built of granite instead of brick.
The fort was completed in 1865 as the war ended. Modern
explosives made the fort obsolete by the time it was completed. A
modernization plan was begun in 1869, but funding was cut off in 1876,
with the third level of the fort still unfinished. During the
modernization project, sod-covered sand was added to the top level of
the fort to protect gun encasements and powder magazines from attacks.
Photo 88, Oct 2010