Trip to Fort Mott and Fort Delaware

Fort Mott is on the south Jersey coast along the Delaware Bay. Fort Delaware is on Pea Patch island in Delaware Bay near the mouth of the Delaware River, and just across the water from Fort Mott.

Kate and I left 6PM Friday April 30 2004 to go investigate both forts.

The roads in south Jersey can be very straight in places, such that, if one were so inclined, one could easily maintain a speed well in excess of the speed limit for tens of minutes at a time. There are other sections with fast sweepers, and occasionally, actual curves that you might have to slow down for. We saw little traffic on 563, but 552 was pretty busy, especially through Vineland.

We took 547 S to Lakehurst, then right on Rt 70 W. Then a left on Rt 539 at Mobil station on Rt 70. Turned off 539 immediately, took Pasadena Road S to Chatsworth, then left on 563. In Mays Landing, we turned right on 552; West on 552 through Vineland, to Bridgeton, then right on 77, and north to Highway 77 Motel.

There is also a Days Inn in Bridgeton, but I opted for the Highway 77 Motel, on the theory that it would be more of an adventure.

The Highway 77 Motel is a scary old relic, with an empty pool out in front of a large parking lot. Seems like it might have welfare cases living in it. The room had a slightly funky smell, probably stale cigarette smoke. Furniture wasn't in bad shape, but for initials and such carved in table tops and the head board.

The desk lamp had its cord all electrical taped up, and the bedside lamp cord was torn in half with electrical tape on part of it. We got the desk clerk/manager to take it and repair it while we walked a quarter mile south on Rt 77 to the Gallery Diner for dinner. While walking along the side of the road we had people hollering things at us from passing cars - apparently here they just let the rednecks out unsupervised.

The Gallery Diner is decorated with a cinema motif, with some old projectors near the entrance and portraits of movie stars on the walls. Food was standard diner fare; Kate had a decent Greek salad and I had the meatloaf dinner.

After dinner we retired to our room and uncharacteristically watched some television before lights out.

Saturday morning we walked over to the nearby Friendly's for breakfast, and then packed up and headed south on 77 back into downtown Bridgeton. The historic district in Bridgeton seems like it might be worth further investigation.

Headed West on 47 to Salem. Downtown Salem is another town that looks like it would be interesting to walk around in. A little past Salem is a turn with a brown state park sign directing one to Ft Mott.

It took about an hour to ride to Ft Mott from north of Bridgeton. We parked the bikes and stashed our riding gear in the gift shop/Ranger station. The ferry to Fort Delaware was at 12:30, so we had about an hour or so to kill, which we used to walk around some of the gun emplacements at Ft Mott. Ft Mott was built between the Civil War and World War I; the really big guns (10 and 12 inch cannons) were installed in the 1890's in anticipation of the Spanish American War, but never fired in anger.

We boarded the ferry at 12:30 for the 15 minute ride to Pea Patch island, on which Fort Delaware is located. Once there, you can ride the jitney the half mile from the dock to the Fort. The ferry costs $3 per adult one way.

Fort Delaware became famous for being a prison for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. It housed approximately 10000 prisoners plus the Union soldiers it took to guard and take care of them.

Now Fort Delaware has re-enactors in period costume that play the parts of both Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners, plus a few other parts. We had a long chat with a re-enactor playing the part of an agent of the Sanitary Commission. The Sanitary Commission was a precursor to the Red Cross - a private institution devoted to the health of American soldiers. They inspected various military bases and could both criticize their operation, or actually supply food or medicines to soldiers.

We had another nice talk with two reenactors working in the Enlisted Mens kitchen. They had just finished preparing a "period" lunch for the reenactors playing enlisted men, which included "beaten" biscuits, in which the dough is beaten instead of rolled.

After an hour and a half, it was time to head out if we were to meet our next obligation. We could easily have spent a lot more time here and at Fort Mott. We took the ferry back to Fort Mott, saddled up, and rode back to Jackson. The route back was: 45 North from Salem to Rt 295 south of approximately Bellmawr, North on 295 to 195, then East to Jackson.

By popular request, here is a link to an educational military history website found by one of Ms Galvin's fourth graders.

Bill with the CBRs in front of our room at the inn.
The Hi-way 77 Motel in all it's crumbling glory
artillery spotting tower at Fort Mott
Front of Fort Delaware with moat
One of the re-enactors giving a lecture on Civil War infantry technique
Cannons along the top of of the wall at Fort Delaware.
Panorama from atop the wall.