FORTifying Winslow’s Historic Past

Winslow Historical Preservation Committee's first item on Maine Memory Network--the town's Narrow Gauge Railroad, ca. 1890.

The Winslow Historical Preservation Committee, owns boxes upon boxes upon boxes of historic material. The only problem: Much of that material has never been adequately organized or catalogued, and it totals somewhere in the vicinity of 500 photos and documents. Good thing, then, that the Committee is a recent Maine Memory Network digitization project grantee.

Three different views of the original Fort Halifax

The Committee’s objective is to focus on sorting through and scanning many of these items, and then selecting prime items to upload to MMN, is sure to uncover some treasures. In fact, if you visit the Committee’s “Winslow History” page on Facebook, you’ll see they’ve begun posting scans of historic photographs related to what is perhaps Winslow’s greatest claim to fame: Fort Halifax.

The Fort was built in 1754-55 as a military outpost along the Kennebec during the French and Indian Wars. It was commanded by Major General John Winslow; hence the town’s name. The town is currently undertaking a major effort to upgrade Fort Halifax Park as noted in a July 12 article in the Waterville Sentinel.

For decades, one of two original blockhouses was all that survived of the Fort. On April 1, 1987, that too was almost destroyed for good. The great April Fool’s Day flood disassembled the structure, sending some of its timbers 4o miles downriver. Hard-working crews managed to find most of them and rebuild the block house with 22 original timbers.

Blockhouse at Fort Halifax, Winslow, ca. 2000

Reassembling and fortifying. That’s a great metaphor for what the Winslow Historical Preservation Committee is up to today. While Maine Historical Society owns a few Fort Halifax and Winslow-related items, some that have been digitized and put on Maine Memory, we look forward to showcasing many more in the months to come.

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About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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