Program in Cape May focuses on history of Fort Mott

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CAPE MAY – The Friends of the World War II Tower, an affinity group of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), will present a program on the role of Fort Mott in defense of the Delaware shoreline at noon on Saturday, March 22 at the Cape May Lutheran Church, 509 Pittsburgh Ave.

Andy Grant, chief historian at Fort Mott, will speak. A free hoagie lunch will be offered.

Fort Mott in Pennsville was part of a three-fort defense system designed for the Delaware River during the post-Civil War period. The other two forts in the system were Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island and Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Del.

Original plans for Fort Mott specified 11 gun emplacements with 20 guns and a mortar battery with six emplacements. Construction was started in 1872 but only two of the gun emplacements and two magazines in the mortar battery were completed by 1876 when all work stopped.

The fortifications seen today were erected in 1896 in anticipation of the Spanish-American War. It is noted for its state-of-the-art "disappearing guns." Fort Mott, along with Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont, became obsolete as the principal defensive installation on the Delaware River with the construction of Fort Saulsbury, near Milford, Del., shortly after World War I.

Troops were regularly stationed at Fort Mott from 1897 to 1922. The federal government maintained a caretaking detachment at the fort from 1922 to 1943. New Jersey acquired the military reservation as a historic site and State park in 1947. The park was opened to the public on June 24, 1951.

Become a Friend of the Tower and admission is free. Admission is $5 for members of the public. Join the Friends group and get discounted admission to this and future Friends events.

For more information, contact Bob Heinly at 609-884-5404, ext. 134.

Adults are asked to bring a young person with them so the group can advance one of its primary goals, which is developing in the younger generation an understanding and appreciation of Cape May's important role in World War II and the traits of patriotism, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.

The World War II Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower No. 23), located on Sunset Boulevard, was used for spotting enemy ships during World War II and aiming guns for nearby coastal artillery fortifications. MAC restored the tower in 2008-09 and opened it to the public in April, 2009.

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