Fort Heath and Fort Dawes – Winthrop MA
After WW2, the fort was decommissioned but from 1960 to 1964, it became the location for the AADCP or the Army-Air Defense Command Post for
Nike Missile defenses. The US Air Force added two Air Defense Command height
finder radar units. These were attended by the 820th Aircraft
Warning and Control Squadron. These radar defenses were continually operated by
the US Army and Air Force until 1966 when the FAA began operating the radar.
The fort was declared surplus on Sept. 1, 1966. Boston
Today, all traces of the fort and its defense machinery have disappeared. This area now has a small park and several apartment buildings.
It was the largest of the three forts at 100 acres and the largest in the
system. In 1907, the Army built the first few buildings, one of which was a
mine observation station. Boston began as a command
and fire control center. Leading up to WW2, a Harbor Entrance Command Post was
built. Artillery and gun placements were
planned for Fort
Dawes Fort Dawes,
but by Sept. 1944, it was determined that the was at a very low
risk for an attack by sea, so the placements were never completed. United States
Today the entire peninsula is dedicated to a water treatment plant that serves 43 nearby towns and is the second largest treatment plant in the country. Around the edges, is a mile or more of paved walk way where people can enjoy the view of the
or rest a bit at
one of the conveniently placed benches. There’s plenty of ships coming and
going in the harbor to provide visual entertainment while taking a breather.
It’s difficult to remember what it was like to be in a town with three forts
all within a mile and a half on one another. But I do remember a dread, a fear
that war could come to our shores, especially during the cold war. There was
some sense of comfort knowing that those three forts were there to protect us
This photo of the fort looks northwesterly and likely dates from about 1939 (note the filled-in channel at top between
and ). It is a rare aerial view, and
comes from the archives of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
It was taken by an unknown photographer. The photo has been enhanced and
cropped by CoastDefense.com and the red arrows have been added. The northern
and central arrows point out the fire control structures (FCSs) at the fort, and
the southern arrow indicates the searchlight shelter (with the searchlight
track curving away to the northeast). The line bisecting the spine of the
island is the boundary fence of the fort, which separated it from the Deer
Island House of Correction and the water treatment plant. The 100-foot
elevation of the east-west hill at the center of the image made this site
valuable for fire control. In this photo, none of the gun positions at the fort
had yet been constructed Deer Island
Fort Heath with Winthrop Beach stretching off into the distance. Fort Dawes is at the tip of the gray strip of land at the center top of this photo.