SANDY HOOK, NJ - Gateway National Recreation Area will hold its annual celebration of Fort Hancock Days Friday, October 28 through Sunday, October 30, 2011. Fort Hancock Days commemorates the establishment of Fort Hancock as an Army base in October 1895. The historic fort is now a part of Gateway's Sandy Hook Unit. This event is free of charge.
On Friday, October 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M., volunteers from the Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) will conduct a lantern tour of the Fort, beginning at the Fort Hancock Museum and ending at Battery Gunnison, which was built in 1904. AGFA volunteers, wearing authentic World War II U.S.
Army Coast Artillery Corps uniforms, will emphasize the fort's war years when Fort Hancock's population swelled to more than 12,000 soldiers, civilian defense workers and family members. AGFA will focus in particular on October 1943, when the Army converted Battery Gunnison from being a disappearing gun battery into its present configuration as a pedestal mounted gun battery.
On Saturday and Sunday, October 29-30, from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., visitors can watch or join in helping AGFA members conduct gun drills at Battery Gunnison, to see how an original Model 1900 six-inch gun (actually over 25 feet long and weighing 10 tons) was aimed and loaded. An original World War II ambulance will also be on display, complete with period medical equipment and staffed by an AGFA volunteer Army nurse.
Battery Potter, America’s first concrete disappearing gun battery, will also be open for tours from 1 P.M. to 4:30 P.M on Saturday and Sunday.
During World War II this battery served as a Harbor Entrance Control Post that controlled the movement of all ships entering into New York Harbor.
To learn about the war’s affect on home life for military families, visit the History House located on the north end of Officer’s Row in Fort Hancock from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday.
Fort Hancock protected the harbor area from enemy warships and warplanes from the time of the Spanish-American War through the nuclear age. During the Cold War, radar and Nike air defense missiles were the fort’s last defense system. Former Army Nike veterans will conduct guided tours of Fort Hancock’s Nike Missile Radar site at Horseshoe Cove on Sunday, October 30, from 12 Noon to 4 P.M. The fort was deactivated in 1974, when the Sandy Hook peninsula became one of the park units of Gateway National Recreation Area as a National Park Service site. Visitors are welcome to tour Sandy Hook's beaches, trails and military history sites.
About Gateway National Recreation Area
Established in 1972, Gateway National Recreation Area has more than 26,000 acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, miles of sandy beaches; indoor and outdoor classrooms; picnicking and camping areas, as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York harbor. The park offers urban residents in two states a wide range of recreational opportunities year round. With more than nine million visitors a year, it is the third most visited national park in the country. For information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, see the park's Web site at http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm