Abandoned Civil War Island Fort Turned Tourist Spot

Just a ferry ride away from the bustle of urban Boston, Georges Island is a lush, green getaway, crafted into a tourist destination from a disused Civil War fort. Among the islands in the Boston Harbor, this 39-acre island is steeped in history and represents a beautiful example of an abandoned site transformed into useful recreation space for city residents.

(all images via: dsearls)

Constructed in 1845-1847 on an island that had been used for agricultural purposes for two hundred years, Fort Warren was supposed to be a main line of coastal defense – but by the time it was dedicated, the design was virtually obsolete. Though it has never seen direct battle, Fort Warren housed Confederate prisoners during the Civil War and was used as a training ground for soldiers throughout the century that followed. Abandoned in the 1940s, it sat empty for years until it was purchased for historic preservation in 1958.

Dark and crumbling, the aging fort has retained its sense of history, delighting guests with dark mysterious corridors. Exploring its depths, visitors might encounter flocks of chimney swifts making their way back out to the fresh air from their hiding spots in corners and crevices. Bring a flashlight if you don’t like feeling your way down the slimy rock faces of pitch-black hallways. In fact, it’s not hard to see why rumors of hauntings at the fort persist – the ruins of the fort could easily serve as the setting for a horror film.

It takes just 20 minutes to access Georges Island on the MBTA ferry that leaves from Boston’s Long Wharf hourly from May through October. On the island, visitors can take guided tours and relax on the grassy hills, enjoying picnics or meals from food stands. A pier offers fishing opportunities, and guests can frolic along the beaches, taking in the views of the other islands.