FORT WETHERILL STATE PARK
Fort Wetherill State Park, situated upon 100 foot high granite cliffs across the water from Fort Adams State Park, is a former coastal defense battery and training camp. Known for its spectacular view of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, Fort Wetherill has been a popular sight for viewing the numerous Tall Ship Events and America?s Cup Races. The area is also a major attraction for scuba diving, with Diving Clubs from New York State, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island using the facilities at the boat ramp year round. Additionally, the park offers family and group picnicking, boating, fishing, hiking and exploring on the park's 61.5 acres of property.
Consisting of 61.5 acres, it was formally acquired by the State of Rhode Island in 1972. Known for its spectacular view of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, Fort Wetherill has been a popular sight for viewing the numerous Tall Ship Events and America?s Cup Races. As with Beavertail State Park, this area has seen a major increase in attendance with people from all over discovering the areas natural beauty and its unique coastal shoreline.
The spectacular setting of Fort Wetherill has made the site strategically important for more than 200 years. During the American Revolution colonists built an earthworks battery here for control of the east passage, but lost the position to the British during the occupation of Newport.
The area was then known as Dumpling Rock and the United States established FortDumpling c.1800. A stone tower was partly built but work was suspended as Fort Adams was developed across the bay. The picturesque "ruin" was a familiar sight for many years.
In the late 19th century new coastal and harbor defenses were planned for the country. In 1898, as part of this Endicott system, the fort was enlarged, the tower dynamited, and poured concrete gun emplacements concealed in the hillside. In 1900 the fort was renamed in honor of Captain Alexander Wetherill, an infantryman killed in the Battle of San Juan during the Spanish American War. The Wetherill family have been Jamestown summer residents for many years.The fort was reactivated during World War II and garrisoned the 243rd Regiment. At the end of the war in 1945, selected German prisoners took part in a program of civic reeducation, held here and elsewhere in Rhode Island locations, before going home to work in German law enforcement. In 1972, 51 acres of the land were transferred to the state, part of a federal program turning surplus property over to recreation use. Since then many visitors have enjoyed the park's spectacular views and opportunities for scuba diving.