It is quite fortunate that much has been done to document and disseminate the story of the HDC. Accordingly, books, pamphlets, experts, websites all prove to be wonderful sources for such information. To follow is a less-than-exhaustive annotated list of sources which have been useful in the drafting of this site, and which might lead the user to needed answers, as well as additional questions.
Anyone interested in wading-in head high in the HDC need only consult Marshall Hanft's 1980 Fort Stevens: Oregon's Defender at the River of the West, published by the Oregon State University Press in Corvallis, could only be on Fort Stevens. In short, the venerable Hanft's work is tremdendously meticulous. Moreover, his writing style, which is excellent, is engaging and fluid. The work, covering primarily the growth of Fort Stevens, from its Civil War genesis to its World War II twilight, is powered by an exhaustive bibliography, comprised of anecdotal information/interviews (servicemen as well as civilians), news print, myriad monographs and official local and federal government documents. In sum, the detail of Hanft's work provides a sure portal to many answers. One rub, however, may come in the sense that there is no indexing. Nonetheless, it is authoritative and should be considered the source of first resort on the Fort Stevens and the HDC. Of additional note is the rarity of Hanft's work. Quite simply, it is very hard to find. Two places which do have copies are the Fort Stevens Museum and the Clatsop County Heritage Museum in Astoria.
Bert Webber's 1976 Retaliation: Japanese Attacks and Allied Countermeasures on the Pacific Coast in World War II., also published by the OSU Press, is, to date, the best work in regard to addressing the state of the general HDC during World War II. And, although it is meant to be universal (Pacific Coast) in its coverage, Retaliation does a solid job of covering the World War II tenure of the HDC forts, the highlight of which was the 1942 attack by the Japanese I-25 on Fort Stevens. At the heart of the work is Webber's ability (through, ostensibly, much foot work), to bring great life to the events of note, from the Goleta, California, shelling to the Hudson bomber's attack on the rogue I-25. Buttressing Webber's great writing is a series of well-chosen pictures and maps, and a number of informative appendices consisting of important dates, definitions and annotations. Indexing is also quite good. As an aside is the fact that Webber's work is no longer in print. The best bet for acquiring the book is to query Portland's Powell's Books, a holder and distributor of many quality hard-to-find books.
Not to be underrated in gaining some context for the HDC's history is David Lindstrom's Anecdotal Time-Line for Fort Stevens, a brochure completed in the Summer of 1994. Lindstrom's efforts cover important dates, from the growth of Fort Stevens to its transition into an air station and eventual deactivation. It is for sale at the Fort Stevens Museum.
With the advent of the National Digital Library Project in the early 1990s, the federal government, primarily through the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), has made several photos available over the Internet. The main portal to some great HDC photos is the NARA Archival Information Locator or NAIL. Once selecting a "standard search" one need only enter the keywords "Coast Defenses Columbia River" to access 43 photos. The photos are public domain, thus making their use unrestricted, provided some citation (during use) of NARA is made. This appears to be the best collection of HDC-specific photos online.
A quality source for information on the entire nation's coastal defense network is the Coast Defense Study Group, Inc., (1560 Somerville Road, Bel Air, Maryland 21015). Outside of providing timely, factual information on battery/fort dimensions, armaments, maps, populations, plus a short history on each fort, the CDSG supplies information on several contacts--historians, area managers, and group leaders--fort addresses, and hours. To access specific information of this sort, one should consult the CDSG's "List of American Military Reservations and Concrete Gun Batteries: U.S. Pacific Coast". From there, simply scroll down the page to "The Harbor Defenses of the Columbia," and then follow fort-specific links.
|Coast Guardsman on post at Fort Stevens. Photo Source: The Otto Freytag Collection and Bert Webber's Retaliation.
In the name of efficacy, two groups exist whose primary task it is to support fort-specific preservation, protection, and education programs. Serving Fort Stevens are the Friends of Old Fort Stevens, (P.O. Box 138, Hammond, Oregon, 97121, (503) 861-1470). Founded in 1979, the "Foofs," endeavor to, in particular, rebuild the original Civil War fort, subsidize the activities of 3 living history employees, and run the Museum store. The group is especially proud of its Labor Day Civil War reenactment, purported to be the largest display of Civil War history in the Pacific Northwest. Provided in the site is contact information, and a membership form. Forts Canby and Columbia are supported by the Friends of the Columbia River Gateway. At this time, the group has no website, but the listed contact is Hansel Turley (President), P.O. Box K Ilwaco, Washington, 9888624, (360) 642-3029.
For a hands-on education, one may be interested in utilizing facilities at the three State Parks, representing the forts. Forts Stevens (213 full RV hookups, 128 electrical campsites, 6 sites for disabled folk, and 7 group sites) and Canby (190 standard campsites, 60 utility sites, and 50 picnic sites) possess overnight campsites, and interpretive centers. Fort Columbia possesses no overnight sites, but does offer 26 picnic sites, and two interpretive centers. In addition to their historical value, all three parks boast tremendous natural beauty, and opportunities for hiking, photography, wildlife viewing, and swimming. Relative to Stevens and Canby, one may consult Reservations Northwest (503-731-3411 or
800-452-5687) for campsite reservation information.
The time that the web author spent with HDC veterens proved the opportunity of a lifetime. The ability to "look into the eyes of history" should never be underrated and goes out highly recommended. The best step to securing an interview is to contact fort support organization representatives. Gale Hemmen, Fort Stevens' official historian, (Ridge Road, Hammond, Oregon, 97121, (503) 861-2000), was invaluable, to the web author, in this regard.
I. Home |
II. HDC History |
III. 1942 Attack |
IV. Interviews |
V. Images |
VII. Resources |
Last updated: Jan. 8, 2000.
James C. Scott (e-mail).