Old Fort Townsend

Historic Jefferson County Fort Worden Fort Flagler
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image of torpedo building   image of torpedo building

Old Fort Townsend State Park is located a few miles south of Port Townsend, off of Old Fort Townsend Rd. This park features a lot of beachfront, about 6 1/2 miles of hiking trails, and a large field where the fort once stood. Nearly all of the original fort is gone, with only a park service board map indicating where the structures once stood. The fort was originally built in 1856 to protect the nearby town of Port Townsend, however, it was of little protection to the town. The fort's water supply was located on the outskirts of the fort, and easily disrupted.The buildings were wood, and therefore of little protection and prone to rot and fire. The fort was in use off and on from 1856 through 1895 when a fire destroyed the barracks and fort. The site remained unused until World War 2, when the government put in a torpedo-defusing station in the nearby woods. That structure is still standing, and bears the hallmarks of a fireworks factory- specifically- a light roof, and very heavy walls. There was more than one reason for those heavy walls. They used X-rays to help defuse the torpedos. There is a small structure nearby that used to contain the equipment that created the electricity for the X-ray machine.

The building has two floors, however, the second floor has been closed off. The first floor is built wholly of cement and brick. Even the tall workbenches in the back part of the building are cement. If you stand in the open area at the front of the building then you can see where there were heavy doors installed to close off the lower large openings. The torpedo (or other item) was hoised up into the building using a winch and entered through the two tall double doors on the top floor. The torpedo was then lowered through a trapdoor into the lower area where they used a two million volt X-ray machine to determine the location of the detonating fuse. The X ray was capable of seeing through up to 10 inches of steel. The Navy also used the machine to check ships' propeller shafts for damage. When the torpedo defusing station was decommissioned, the X-ray machine was sent to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

picture of trap door

This is the trapdoor where the torpedo or propeller was brought down to be X-rayed. The X-ray machine was originally located directly under this.

Last edited 8/11/06