Goroskop Maia 2012
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Fortifications Endicott Era Other Features
The Battery Commander’s Observation Tower and Other Structures

The mortar and direct-fire batteries at Fort Slocum were integrated into a single coordinated command, and they were supported by several other buildings and structures spread around Fort Slocum.

Observation Tower
Perhaps the most important of these was the Observation Tower. The Battery Commander occupied the tower from which he could sight targets and direct the fire of the batteries. Originally the Battery Commander’s post was a position behind Officers’ Row on the edge of the Quartermaster Area, but in 1904 the Army erected a new 51-foot-high observation tower near the southeastern corner of the Parade Ground.

The core of the observation tower was a thick concrete pillar surrounded by a protective steel tube. Enclosing the top of the tower was a two-level shelter on four steel legs. The shelter contained instruments for determining and plotting the positions of targets, including a precisely-aligned azimuth telescope bolted directly to the top of the pillar. Once the position of the target had been determined, the Battery Commander could issue firing orders by telephone to the batteries.

 

The Battery Commander’s Observation Tower and Other Structures

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This observation tower (built ca. 1904; demolished ca. 1937) provided Fort Slocum's battery commander with a high vantage point for aiming the post's mortars and guns.

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Ruins of the Searchlight Powerhouse (Building 114), November 2006.

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The Ordnance Storehouse (Building 110), circa 1930

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Ruins of the Ordnance Storehouse (Building 110), November 2006.


Searchlight
Around 1904, at about the same time the Observation Tower was constructed, the Army also installed a 60-inch searchlight at Fort Slocum. The light stood northeast of the Mortar Battery on the northern flank of the small earthwork for the recently-abandoned Battery Practice.

The use of powerful searchlights was an important innovation in coastal defense, for it greatly improved targeting at night. Fort Slocum’s searchlight was housed in a tall wood frame shelter atop a small rise of rock and soil. Its several million-candlepower arc light was operated by a steam-powered generator housed in Building 114.

Ordnance Storehouse and Other Buildings
The searchlight generator building stood next to another building in the fortification group, the Ordnance Storehouse (Building 110). Built in 1896, this building stored artillery supplies, probably including spare parts, lubricants and possibly shells or shell components. It later became the Post Laundry.

Other small buildings with support functions in the battery complex included two small observation stations on the eastern shoreline of Davids Island and a telegraph hut near its southern shore.