Fort Flagler Bears Winter Colors With Grace

Despite trees crashing next to their basecamp, the team heads out to explore the historic batteries of Fort Flagler.

Historic Fort Flagler

It’s been a while since we visited our historic Fort Flagler State Park. Ironically, the reason is due to the very thing that makes this park one of our favorites; all the activities it has to offer which in turn makes it a very popular destination. With Covid-19 and the surge of new campers heading to the outdoors along with Washington States online reservation system, there just wasn’t a spot to be had over the summer and fall.

With cold temperatures and soggy skies that problem has alleviated but seems not by much. Still, I can’t complain. Hopefully, this increase in campers translates into more people invested in protecting the outdoors. I’d love to see a turn around the dismal track record we’ve experienced in the last four years under the outgoing administration and their seemingly single-minded focus on rolling back hard-fought protections.

Fort Flager is one of three forts that were planned and build to create a ‘triangle of fire’ which protected the entrance to Admiralty Inlet. For years they had been in the planning stage but it wasn’t until the sinking of the USS Maine in February of 1898 that building started in earnest. The other two forts are Fort Worden and Fort Casey but it was Fort Flagler that was completed and activated first.

Fort Flagler
The old Marrowstone Lighthouse now used by the USGS as a Research Center.

Activated on July 27th, 1899 the fort boasted state-of-the-art armament with 6-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch ‘disappearing guns’; so-called because they disappeared behind the walls of their emplacements during reloading which protect both guns and crew. They became obsolete with the arrival of air warfare and long-range naval guns. An interesting note is that some of the larger guns were shipped to the European front during WW1.

The fort continued to be staffed and transitioned to a new role of training grounds. During the Korean War amphibian tactics were taught and practiced on the shorelines of the fort. On June 30th, 1957 the fort was deactivated and 4 years later Washington State started acquiring the fort for use as a state park.

The fort really has quite a bit to offer; historic buildings and a museum, miles of shoreline and trails to hike, as well as a boat launch. In the summer, it’s always busy but we’ve found until recently that the shoulder-seasons are a great time to visit and beat the crowds.

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

advertisement

twitter feed

Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

[custom-twitter-feeds]

Despite trees crashing next to their basecamp, the team heads out to explore the historic batteries of Fort Flagler.

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

Latest Instagram

Here's the view from last night's sunset on the trail from the historic batteries of Fort Flagler. ...

It doesn’t matter how many times I visit; I love to sit and watch the drama of the waves crashing under the lighthouse. ...

Fort Flagler is a historic fort that was built at the turn of the last century. Despite being built for military purposes, it never fired a shot in anger. By the time the fort was completed, it was already obsolete, and its guns were shipped to the East Coast to take part in World War I.⁠ Media Description: Fort Flagler ...

I woke up to a spectacular clouds show this morning. It was ever-changing and dramatic. I think it was due to a front moving in and then hitting the Olympics. ...

Boarding the MV Coho bright and early for a journey to Victoria, British Columbia. ...

Did you notice the breathtaking sunrise this morning? It was a refreshing change to see it without any rain. ...

Camping at Fort Worden this weekend. Nice to have the temperatures moderate and get outdoors. Even had a spot of sun as we passed the lighthouse on our walk. ...

It's sunny, but man, it's frigid out there! ...

We are enjoying the tranquility of a waterfall deep in the Olympic National Forest. ...

Taking a break on the trail to Goat Rock's summit for coffee. The trail leads from the park under the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. ...

Near the Tieton River bank, we found a blooming Brittle Prickly Pear (Opuntia fragilis). Visit our website for more details and photos from this trip. ⁠ Media Description: Brittle Prickly Pear ...

Hey, we're going camping this weekend at Fort Flagler State Park. Looks like there's a wild front coming through and the winds are really starting to howl. The good news is that we pretty much have the whole campground to ourselves. ...

Yellow Salsify reminded us of our childhood, and yes, we spent considerable time blowing the seeds into the breeze.⁠ Media Description: Yellow Salsify. You can find more photos and read about this adventure with the link in the bio. ...

This set of pillars made from columnar basalt at the terminus of Frenchman Coulee is popular among rock climbers.⁠ Read more about this in the link in bio. ...

We started our hike to the Frenchman Coulee Waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge early in the morning to beat the heat. However, when we reached the bottom of the waterfall, it was already scorching hot. Follow the link in the bio to read more. ...

Wind Storm Batters Campground

Although it was great to be back in Fort Flagler, I’m not sure the campground had the same sentiments towards us. Our first morning there we awoke to a High Wind Advisory. I knew one was being issued before we choose our camp and I had purposely picked a site that was, hopefully, shelter behind a large hill from the predicted SW winds.

All seemed good when we went for our early morning, before-breakfast hike. We were anxious to visit the Upper Campground which is closed during the winter but affords a great view of the bay and Indian Island. As we came out of the lee of the hill we both staggered a couple of steps backward as the wind met us full force. Three hundred yards to the east where the camp was situated all was calm so I congratulated myself on a job well done.

all article photographs

However, later that morning as we were relaxing and planning the day after breakfast, an awful tortured prolonged crack was heard throughout the campground. I couldn’t help but grip the table in anticipation of what would happen next, and sure enough, a tremendous earth-shaking thud followed. We piled out of the trailer and just two sites down a Douglas Fir was laying on its side, its trunk snapped a few feet from the ground. No damage and no injuries so all were fortunate but it was a bit unnerving as we started thinking of ‘what could have been.’

The rest of the weekend was uneventful other than a good bit of filming and exploring. I hope to have a short ready soon.

Please share this:

More to explore

Goat Creek
Journal

Exploring Cathedral Falls

Steve strikes out with a couple of colleagues to search for the massive and equally impressive Catherdal Falls in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Read More »
Jefferson Lake
Journal

Round 2 with Rocky

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on Rocky Brook Falls while out with friends. We spent a fair amount of time photographing the Rocky Brook Falls but I wasn’t feeling satisfied.

Read More »
Journal

Big Fish in a Little Stream

Anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest is familiar with the migration of the different species of Salmon. What did surprise me recently was the the size of the water these amazing fish are willing to attempt swimming up to breed. My childhood handmade sailboat wouldn’t float in the amount of water we’re talking here?

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.