Those looking for an eye-opening experience during their Maine getaway should consider a trip to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. Not only is it the tallest public bridge observatory in the world, it’s also directly adjacent to Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort!
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge connects Verona Island to the mainland, over the Penobscot River, about a half an hour northwest of our Castine bed and breakfast. The 2,120 feet (646 m) long, cable-stayed bridge opened in 2006, replacing the 1931 Waldo–Hancock Bridge.
All of that just makes the Penobscot Narrows sound like your average bridge, which it most definitely is not!
For one thing, the bridge’s architecture is beautiful to observe and also quite unique. It’s one of only three bridges in the US using a cradle system for its cable stays. Further, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is also home to an observatory and not just any observatory, either. It’s the tallest public bridge observatory in the world, in fact. Taller than the Statue of Liberty!
The Penobscot Narrows Observatory
The architecture of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge includes two massive towers, festooned with stay cables, rising high above the bridge deck. The Penobscot Narrows Observatory is perched atop the west tower at a height of 420 feet, or 42 stories; the tallest occupied structure in Maine.
Visitors reach the observatory via an elevator located at the base of the tower. Once atop the spire, you’ll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the river, the bridge, Penobscot Bay, Fort Knox, and the surrounding countryside. A truly stunning experience that words alone cannot do justice to.
The observatory is detailed in granite and iron, replicating the look and feel of nearby Fort Knox. Interpretive panels provide a rich background, telling the fascinating history of the site.
The Penobscot Narrows Observatory is open seasonally, from May 1st through October 30th every year, just like nearby Fort Knox.
The Original Fort Knox
The name “Fort Knox” may conjure up images of gold bars and Kentucky in your mind but we’re talking about an older Fort Knox. The original Fort Knox, in fact, built in 1844, some 74 years before the one you were probably first thinking of.
Fort Knox is Maine’s largest historic fort and one of the best-preserved historic forts on New England’s coast. It was built to protect against British naval incursions but, as you probably already guessed from the date, never saw any action.
Fort Knox is located on the west bank of the Penobscot River in Prospect, Maine. Visitors to the fort will discover more than 144 acres of history and scenic views to explore. The granite fortification, with its intact cannons and guns, is well preserved and impressive, with many unique architectural details. Enjoy a self-guided or docent led tour and learn about life for the soldiers stationed here.
Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center to view exhibits detailing the fort’s history through photos and other artifacts. Fort Knox also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including concerts and living history events.
Getting to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is an easy and scenic, just under a half-hour drive from our Maine bed and breakfast, Pentagöet Inn & Wine Bar.
Simply take Main Street from the Inn to ME-166 and head north.
Stay on ME-166 for around 15 miles, until you reach US-1 S.
Take a left on US-1 S and stay on it until you reach the bridge.
Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory are open from May 1st through October 30th. Park grounds are open from 9am to sunset, all year long. Visit the Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory website for more information. You can also find the trio on Facebook.