Rising from the shore of the Penobscot River, Fort Knox is a sight to behold. The sheer size of the fort and the incredible workmanship it took to construct makes Fort Knox appear as the mid-coast Maine version of the Great Pyramid. The fortified design is a taunt to enemies that never came—dare to enter, dare to fire, dare to take away America’s freedom. The irony of Fort Knox is in what didn’t occur—no enemy ever fired on it, no soldiers ever died in combat, and no officers or soldiers ever even lived within its walls. It is as if the splendor of Fort Knox itself is a ghost, a duplicitous sister fort, a possibility of what could have been. It is a representation of a bygone era in warfare—built a little too late, in a place a little too out of the way,
The history of the building of the fort and the climate of the country when it was commissioned is fascinating and will be briefly explored in this book. But it is the eeriness of Fort Knox that has emerged from its majestic beginnings that brings thousands of people each year. Even the most skeptical among us have felt the heaviness of the air in Two-Step Alley and the sense that eyes follow as we walk through the officer’s quarters. Even people who have never seen a ghost or thought they ever would, have felt a cold pressure rubbing against their neck. And then there are those who come primarily to see the ghosts and to have a paranormal experience led by professional ghost trackers committed to scientifically proving that the fort is indeed haunted.
But the question must be asked, what or who is haunting the fort? What makes the conditions so ripe for terror? According to Maine State Historian Tom DesJardin, there have been only three confirmed deaths at the fort. Two caretakers died on the premises and one German worker died of disease while stationed there. Are those three souls trapped inside? Is that what makes it one of the most haunted forts in America—haunted enough to be featured on a nationally syndicated television show? Or is it the confluence of swirling water, granite, and cold temperatures inside the fort that make for perfect paranormal conditions? Who are these ghosts? Are they the spirits of the farmers who sold their land to the government so the fort could be built and who now search for their old homes? Is it one or both of the caretakers who strolled the grounds every day, morning and night, even in the dead of winter, even when there was no war in sight? Could they be spirits who traveled upriver from Castine, from the site of the most devastating naval disaster until Pearl Harbor—the Penobscot Expedition, where more than five hundred lives were lost? Could they be the ghosts of the young men who died at the Mount Waldo quarry preparing the stone to sheath the fort? Or the young man who died when the staging in the silver mine adjacent to the fort collapsed? Or the soldiers stationed there during the Civil War who deserted and were forced to come back? Who, who, who?