March 2004

Defending the coast

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A historic North Carolina Fort is renovated

by Kate Gawlik
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The pirate Blackbeard passed through it in 1718. The Spanish plundered it in 1747. The British captured it in 1782. The Confederates occupied a fort protecting it in 1861. Federal forces took the fort back in 1862.

The hot commodity is Beaufort Inlet, the entrance to Beaufort Harbor, one of North Carolina's major deep-water ocean ports. After years of hostile takeovers, the U.S. government realized it needed to establish a coastal defense to protect Beaufort and other coastal towns and entryways that encountered similar attacks. Therefore, during the early 1800s, several forts were built along the Eastern Seaboard.

After constructing two failed forts on Bogue Banks, an island outside Beaufort Inlet, the government completed Fort Macon in 1834 to guard the inlet and harbor (the first fort never was finished, and the second deteriorated and washed away). Fort Macon was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and named after Nathaniel Macon, an eminent North Carolina statesman.

Although Fort Macon has been repaired and renovated throughout the years, its infrastructure was damaged from water that penetrated the ceilings, walls and floors of the casements, or fortified "rooms"...

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