Fort Rodmen, New Bedford MA

Fort Rodmen~ Fort Tabor…you say tomato I say….well you get the idea. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the same place, at the end of Rodney French Blvd.  I first heard of the old fort from a co-worker who grew up in New Bedford. I told Jay he should be working for the Chamber of Commerce because he knows all the neat places in New Bedford and sings their praises all of the time.

Anyway, let me address the name confusion first. Construction of the fort began during the late 1850’s . The local citizens of New Bedford called it Fort Tabor after the mayor of New Bedford during that time. The army renamed the fort after Lieutenant Colonel Logan Rodman of the 38th Massachusetts Infantry, a New Bedford native. He was killed in the assault on Fort Hudson, Louisiana in the Civil War.

There really were 2 forts on this location. A placard identifies the location of the earthen works fort that was used while the stone fort was under construction. It’s amazing how small that structure was based on the outline of the foundation that has been laid out with the paving stones .

Originally this area of New Bedford was known as Clark’s Point and Clark’s Point lighthouse was built there in 1797. As the Stone Fort grew in heght it obscured the lighthouse so a 2nd lighthouse was built in the Fort itself.

When the coast guard made a move to decommission the original lighthouse in the channel, once again the town rallied together and petitioned to keep Clark’s Point Light. The town won. 🙂

In memorial to more modern wars, there  is a World War II Exercise Tiger Tank on display in the park to honor the service men killed in an exercise in preparation for D-Day.


Landing exercises were being executed in Lyme Bay, England. The area was chosen for its similarity to Utah Beach. On April 28, 1944 as a mock beach landing was being attempted 9 German E-Boats attacked the convoy which was only protected at 50% strength. It is estimated that 946 American Servicemen died in the operation. 308 from friendly fire. To this day there is only limited information available which has sparked charges of a coverup. It’s doubtful we will ever know how everyone died but here at Fort Rodman Military Reservation they will be remembered.

There is also a beautiful memorial to the Vietnam Veterans. It is filled with symbolism that is explained with a great deal of sensitivity on the descriptive placard.

One last item of interest is the Military Museum which is also on site. I confess, I didn’t take the time to go through there this time. I was interested in some of the nonmilitary aspects of the grounds.

One of the first things I noticed was a play ground that was getting lots of use as I walked by.  The land around the fort right up to the retaining walls was seeded with grass and well maintained. The paths were paved and there were benches along the paths so you could stop and stare out to sea.

As you continue around the property you come to the side with the channel and there’s the old Clark Point Light house.

 There were tables and benches and a long concrete wharf lined with streetlights. There were a couple of concrete benches on the wharf .

 The first one wasn’t bad but the one at the end was pretty disgusting. I’m not sure if the seagulls had lunch there or if human fisherman had cleaned their catch on it but it was covered with dried fish guts and blood. That was the only discordant touch in the lovely park.

There were several beaches and they were far from packed. It could have been because it was windy so not especially hot. But the rumor I heard is that even on hot days these are “forgotten” beaches and usually not too crowded.

I will definitely have to return over the summer and give you updates.

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