Description - Fort Stark was named in honor of John Stark, commander of New Hampshire forces at the Battle of Bennington (1777). It is one of seven forts built to protect Portsmouth Harbor. The others in New Hampshire are: Fort Washington, Fort William and Mary (Fort Constitution) and Fort Dearborn (Odiorne Point State Park), and in Maine; Fort Sullivan, Fort McClary and Fort Foster.
- The earliest forts were built to protect the colonists. As Portsmouth Harbor's importance increased with its Revolutionary War shipbuilding industry and the establishment of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1800, additional fortification was needed.
At Jerry's Point there is evidence of earthwork fortification, circa 1842, and a stonework fort, circa 1873. Following the Spanish American War (1898) the improved defense of key harbors became a national priority. Fortifications such as Fort Stark were constructed on both coasts during the Endicott Period (1890-1920) and at Forts Constitution, McClary and Foster. The basic defense concept was to mine the harbor entrances and erect gun batteries. No shots were ever fired in anger.
The final coastal fortification occurred during World War II (W.W.II) when batteries were added to Fort Foster, and Fort Dearborn was constructed. The five remaining forts are obsolete and today are considered historic sites or parks which are open to the public. Following World War II the navy took over the army installations and used Fort Stark primarily for reserve training until the property was deeded to the state of New Hampshire in 1978 and 1983.
Recreation - Ten acres of land at Fort Stark are located along the beautiful Atlantic Coastline. An interpretive center tells the story of the fort and picnic tables offer an opportunity for outdoor dining.
The center is located in the old mines building and is open by appointment only. Call: 603-436-1552 prior to a visit.
Please visit with caution! Fort Stark is a former military installation. Beware of dangers of unprotected stairs, high walls, rough ground and slippery rocks. Adult supervision of children is required.
Climate - Winter can be cold with average temperatures ranging around 19 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold temperatures humidity bring heavy, water-laden snow to all parts of the state. Spring begins in mid-March and lasts through May. This time of the year is referred to as mud season in the mountains. The sugar is flowing early in the season and wild flowers bloom toward the end of it. Summer is the busiest season of the year for the tourism industry. This is an excellent time to travel, mountain roads are open and most of the mud has dried. Average summer temperatures range around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall brings the leaf lookers to see the spectacular colors of the deciduous trees. Expect to see bus loads of people enjoying the crisp fall New England weather.
Fort Stark is located on SR 1B in New Castle.