19 May 2011

Presence of those long past

During breakfast this morning our captain moved the boat from the Newport Yachting Center to the pier at Fort Adams located at the mouth of Newport's harbor and the east passage into Narragansett Bay. After happily sampling wine at Greenvale our trolley buses returned us to the Grande Mariner for lunch. (We will eat all our meals aboard.)

Following lunch Rob McCormack with the Fort Adams Trust visitor services came aboard to make a presentation on the history, state and future of the facility which is the centerpiece of a Rhode Island state park. The intrepid among us braved a lateral rain to cross the parking lot for a special pre-season tour in order to see it for ourselves.

Established in 1799 and decommissioned in 1950 what stands today was built between 1824 and 1857. Fort Adams is the largest, most complex fort the United States has ever built and the vast 6.5 acre parade ground illustrates that statistic dramatically. It's surrounded by structures built at various times and now in various states of (dis)repair, the west, oldest, most decrepit side commanding a dramatic view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Detail of west side of Fort Adams

The rain decreased to sporadic and for most part we were quiet as we moved from location to location with our guide. In the populated and damp solitude in which I found myself I was strangely aware of the presence of the thousands of people who had labored and lived on that spot.  Its empty silence was anything but.

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