10 Things to Know About Fort Taber

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Michael Silvia

by Michael Silvia

One of New Bedford’s historical treasures and largest parks is Fort Taber-Fort Rodman on Clark’s Point. It’s an amazing location and that shapes the tip of the south end of New Bedford. To me, it’s important and fun to learn about your local history. Do you know why the fort has two names; Fort Taber and Fort Rodman? Or that in the summer months you can get a ride from downtown New Bedford to Fort Taber, round trip for $1? Most of the historical information used in this article was taken from the official Fort Taber- Fort Rodman Historical Association’s website and the City of New Bedford’s Fort Taber Park page.

1. There was never a military battle at Fort Taber-Fort Rodman, but the fort deterred enemy navies from attacking our shipping and city during the civil war, World War I and World War II.

2. The United States first saw Clark’s Point as a strategic location during the American Revolution. A British raid in 1778 destroyed seventy vessels and twenty-six storehouses.

3. The first government structure built on Clark’s Point was a 42-foot stone tower lighthouse erected in 1804 to help guide whalers and other vessels entering the harbor.

Fort Taber in 1871

Fort Taber in 1871.

4. On September 24, 1857, the federal government purchased the Edward Wing Howland farm on Clark’s Point for $7,000 to establish a defensive military fort. The initial funding was $50,000 for a 70 gun defensive fort.

5. On May 11, 1861, a temporary defensive position was completed and unofficially named Fort Taber after current New Bedford Mayor Issac C. Taber (1860-1862). It was built to help defend the area during the Confederate navy during the Civil War. The federal government called  it “the fort at Clark’s Point.”

6. In 1898, the entire military property was officially named Fort Rodman in honor of Lt. Col. William Logan Rodman of New Bedford, killed in the Civil War battle at Port Hudson, Louisiana.

7. After World War II, Fort Rodman was declared surplus and in the 1970s part of the facility was sold to the City of New Bedford.

8. There is a military museum on the fort for visitors enjoy. It is open daily from 1-4 p.m. Call 508-994-3938 for more details. The park hours are:

Mon – Thu: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 6:00 am – 2:00 am
Sun: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

9. There is an interactive timeline detailing the evolution of Fort Rodman-Fort Taber and an interactive map to learn specifics on each building.

10. In the summer, You can take a round trip NB Line shuttle from downtown New Bedford to Fort Taber for $1 on the weekends. Details and last year’s schedule here.

Know of an unique fact about Fort Taber-Fort Rodman? Post a comment!

Fort Taber Fort Rodman New Bedford Map

7 thoughts on “10 Things to Know About Fort Taber

  1. Kathleen Burkhalter

    Capt. Robert E. Lee, later Gen. Robert E. Lee helped draw up the plans. This is an important piece of the fort’s history.

  2. Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcholics Anonymous, was stationed at Fort Taber during WW1.. It is said it is where he had his first taste of alcohol.

  3. The folks at the military museum explained to me that the fort was supposed to be three levels high instead of the two that it actually is. They said that a lot of the stone for that tier was on site and never used and it has been used around the park. Some of the cut granite that is used in the wall in front of the parking lot is the stone that was intended for the fort. You can see the finish cuts on many of the pieces.

  4. Henry Martyn Robert was assigned to Ft Taber with the Army Corps of Engineers. While he was posted there, he he began to write a book about parliamentary procedure, know to all as Robert’s Rules of Order.

  5. This is great! Only I’m not sure the park hours are correct – I was stargazing with my boyfriend last Saturday night at the park and we were kicked out by a police officer promptly at 10pm. We were so bummed out since we had only been there 20 minutes or so.

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