Military Wiki

Fort Pickering is a 17th-century historic fort site on Winter Island in Salem, Massachusetts. Fort Pickering operated as a strategic coastal defense and military barracks for Salem Harbor during a variety of periods, serving as a fortification from the Anglo-Dutch Wars through World War II. Construction of the original fort began in 1643 and it saw use as a military installation into the 20th century. Fort Pickering is a First System fortification named for Colonel Timothy Pickering, adjutant general of the Continental Army and secretary of War in 1795. Today, the remains of the fort are open to the public as part of the Winter Island Maritime Park, operated by the City of Salem.

17th Century[]

Winter Island at the time of English settlement in the early 1600s was an island separated from the mainland, held as common land by the Proprietors and used as a fortification and for fishing activities (Perley, 1924).

18th Century[]

The old fortification which was named Fort William then renamed Fort Ann, was rebuilt around 1706 under the direction of the Royal Engineers who had originally been sent by King William III to fortify the colonies (Finch, 1998: Salem Observer 1978). In 1794, the City of Salem ceded the fort to the federal government and a new fort was constructed in its place. Major repairs to the fort were conducted in 1796 and a restoration in 1799. Later in 1799 it was renamed Fort Pickering in honor of Timothy Pickering, then Secretary of State of the U.S. (Observer 1978).

Hand-drawn picture of Fort Pickering from the Pictorial Fieldbook of the War of 1812 by Benson Lossing (1869)

File:Fort Pickering Ammunition Bunker.jpg

One of Three 19th-century Ammunition Bunkers

19th Century[]

Fort received its forth military restoration in 1814 (Collins). During the 1800s the island was used primarily for fortification and in 1864 the City of Salem again ceded the island to the federal government in support of the Civil War efforts.

20th Century[]

The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1994, the National Register designated the significant collection of cultural resources at Winter Island and Fort Pickering as the "Winter Island Historic District and Archeological District."


Fort Pickering in the 1930s


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