2019 Highlights & Thanks

Thank you for an incredible 2019!

2019 was a big year.

Highlights include our first-ever season sponsors, increased tour capacity, sold-out events, a very successful public forum, a new boat, new partnerships, our own beer, and as of last week, we completed funding for the Fort Gorges Access Project.

Read on for more information.

First-ever season sponsors

2019 would not have been the success that it was without the support of our season sponsors: Rising Tide BrewingBangor Savings BankArta Custom FramingOxbow Brewing, and Emily Delamater Photography. Thanks to their sponsorship we were able to partner with Portland Wine Week (Fort Wine), John Weaver (Technical Tour), and Brie Arthur & Patrick Cullina (Fortscaping).

A very special thanks to the crew at Rising Tide Brewing for creating the delicious Fort Gorges beer!

The Rising Tide crew

Release day at the brewery

Please contact us for 2020 season sponsorship.

2019 Tour & Event Highlights

Wine event on Maine Wharf

Fortitude art benefit at Arta

Maine Outdoor Brands tour

John Weaver’s Technical Tour

Fortscaping event with Brie Arthur and Patrick Cullina

2019 tour and event highlights include an expanded tour season and several sold-out events. We began our tour season in late May and conducted our last tour in October. We actually had a request in November for a private tour but had to decline due to 30-knot winds!

In June, we partnered with Portland Wine Week and Devenish Wines for a tour of the fort and then a wine tasting at a magnificent waterfront location overlooking the harbor. Also in June, we hosted an art benefit at Arta featuring works inspired by Fort Gorges and Casco Bay. In July, we hosted a gathering for Maine Outdoor Brands at the fort. In August, we hosted two special events: A Technical Tour of Fort Gorges with Third System fort expert John Weaver, and our Fortscaping event with renown horticulturalists Brie Arthur and Patrick Cullina.

Season Highlights

2019 saw us forming new partnerships with two important organizations: Maine Outdoor Brands and The Portland Parks Conservancy. We also hosted the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for an eelgrass workshop at the fort.

While the MOB and DEP events were fun and educational, it’s our partnership with the Portland Parks Conservancy that we’re truly excited about.

Portland Parks Conservancy Board members in the casemate corridor
The ride back to Portland aboard Freedom
DEP’s Angie Brewer leads the eelgrass workshop
Lots of life to be found at the fort
FoFoGO Board members Aaron Frederick and Roger Berle at the forum
A full house and an engaged audience

2019 saw us forming new partnerships with two important organizations: Maine Outdoor Brands and The Portland Parks Conservancy. We also hosted the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for an eelgrass workshop at the fort. While the MOB and DEP events were fun and educational, it’s our partnership with the Portland Parks Conservancy that we’re truly excited about.

The newly formed Portland Parks Conservancy has voted to fund their first projects and Fort Gorges made the list. The Parks Conservancy also hosted a public forum at the East End Community School which gave the public an opportunity to hear the pros and cons of commercialization of our parks, including Fort Gorges. Attendance at the forum was standing-room-only and the audience was nearly unanimous in their support for the Friends’ mission to preserve Fort Gorges.

Our New Tour Vessel

FoFoGo’s new West Bay 26

We’ve been conducting tours for the last three years and now we’re upping our game with our very own tour vessel. Thanks to Block Island Maritime Funding and our generous board members, we’ll yet again be increasing our tour capacity for Fort Gorges.

Access to this island park is a key component of our mission and we need your help to keep our costs down. Please consider making a donation today.

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  Fort Gorges Access Project 100% Funded

Thanks to the Horizon Foundation and the Upper Street Fund for their generous support of our Access Project!

The important planning phase for this work would not have been possible without the professional services of Resurgence Engineering, Briburn Architects, Casco Bay Lines, The City of Portland, as well as assistance from board member Steve Russell and key volunteers Nicholas Conner and Paul and Linda Trueworthy.

Once completed, we will have the capacity to accommodate larger vessels alongside the stone wharf, including the Casco Bay Lines. With increased access comes more people experiencing this park, more donors to help fund our work, and a potential avenue toward financial sustainability.

Work is slated to begin in May 2020.

Preservation Plan Partnership

 Fort friends and supporters enjoying a tour

Up next: the Fort Gorges Preservation Plan which will, quite literally, save the fort. The two key elements of this project are: 1. cribbing to support the deteriorating casemates and 2. improved access to the southwest rampart (the top part of the fort which faces the harbor and city).

1. The arches within the fort walls that face Peaks Island must be supported in order to prevent further deterioration. This has been done in other forts with great success.
2. The pressure treated lumber that currently provides the bridge and railings on the southwest rampart is reaching the end of its life cycle and now is the time to think about replacing it with something more permanent. The Preservation Plan calls for replicating the railings that the US Army Corp created which will provide design consistency and last for many years.

The plans for this work have been approved and the City of Portland has made a commitment to fund half of the estimated $500K to complete the work. Additionally, the Portland Parks Conservancy has made a commitment to fundraise for this project. We are thrilled to be partnering with them and look forward to seeing what transpires in 2020.


Please consider making a donation today.
We can also accommodate gifts of stocks and other securities.Wishing you all the best in 2020!
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