Old Fort Western, built in 1754 and a National Historic Landmark, is America’s oldest surviving wooden fort – a reminder of the great contest between cultures that dominated New England life 250 years ago. The Fort was built by the Kennebec Proprietors, a Boston-based company seeking to settle the lands along the Kennebec River that had been granted to the Pilgrims more than a century earlier. The company and the Province of Massachusetts both were interested in expanding their influence in the area as part of an effort by Britain and her colonies to take final political control of North America and to sever what they saw as the ties between the Abenaki (Maine’s Indians) and the French in Canada.
Built at the head of navigation on the river, Fort Western served as a fortified storehouse in support of Fort Halifax, located 17 miles north. Supplies were shipped via sloop and schooner from Boston as many as four times a year, unloaded at Fort Western, then taken by flat-bottomed boat, often against a strong river current, to Fort Halifax.
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