This past week has been all about Peddocks. On Wednesday I was able to get back out to the island for a site visit focused on East Head, and I was accompanied by Deni Sarno-Bucca of DCR, Marc Albert of BOHA Stewardship and Jen Hanna from OCLP (all Peddocks photo cred in this blog post goes to her, thanks Jen!). We had incredible luck with the weather as it had rained the night before which melted most of the snow, and it was in the high 40’s-low 50’s. The purpose of the site visit was to explore the Fort Andrews area more thoroughly, take existing conditions photos, and “treasure hunt” for remnants of resources we’d found on maps and described in narratives. I was very excited to walk up to the campground area and see the batteries and landscape I had traced in CAD a few weeks ago. Deni showed us remnants of a search light that was installed in 1913 as part of the Taft Board recommendations in 1905 which called for technical modernization and installation of accessory harbor defense equipment. Another neat feature we got to see were the trenches dug for military training. The winding trenches we were able to see that day are about 3-4 feet deep and located in the land between batteries Cushing and Rice. Having Deni there to guide us to these features was invaluable because I certainly would not have found those resources unless I was able to roam free on the island with historic aerials and a fine toothed comb for a week. After coming back from the field visit and looking at more historic aerials and updating site maps, it looks as if there were perhaps one or two additional searchlights on East Head: one on the northern side and one on the southern side. I hope I’ll be able to get back there soon to find out. There is so much more to explore on East Head alone!
I became curious as to how the search lights worked, so I got on the Google machine and looked at some other Endicott Period search light structures. I found photos from 1920 of a search light in Fort Rosencrans in California that looks quite similar to Fort Andrews’ search light remnants. The source also shows an above ground search light structure in which the light was mounted on a cart and guided on tracks. The light could be maneuvered several hundred feet out of the housing structure if it was above ground. Seeing the light mounted on a cart reminded me of a site visit to Gallops Island in the fall where Eliot and I found track remnants near the shore.
Other than the Peddocks CLI, I have a few hats to put on in the upcoming weeks including updating Volume II of the BOHA CLR after receiving park comments, dedicating a week or so to Volume I photo permission work, wrapping up the Commandant’s House planting plan by meeting with Navy Yard OCLP and BOST to discuss the new design and plantings, and getting the planting plan for Greenhill updated. There is never a dull moment at OCLP!