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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
 
 

Fort Hancock Walking Tour Historical Markers

A series of 39 markers on Sandy Hook follows a trail through Fort Hancock which guarded New York Bay from 1895 to 1974.
 
Marker in Fort Hancock image, Click for more information
By Bill Coughlin, April 14, 2012
Marker in Fort Hancock
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 29 — A Late Addition to Officers Row
When Officers Row was built, this site was left vacant to allow space for the West Beacon Range Light. Ships traveling across Raritan Bay would line up the lighthouse and beacon lights to mark their way. After the West Beacon was demolished in the . . . — Map (db m54511) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 23 — Army Docks
The first wharf built here was used to bring in granite blocks for the Fort at Sandy Hook. Later, cannon to be tested at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground were received here. In the 1890s barges arrived carrying the materials to build Fort . . . — Map (db m54505) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 9 — Athletic Field
The army encouraged sporting events and friendly competition between units on the post and among neighboring forts. Fort Hancock had its own baseball, football, bowling, basketball, and weight lifting teams, which competed with posts in the region. . . . — Map (db m54482) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 31 — Bachelor Officers’ Quarters
The BOQ housed unmarried officers. Captains and majors lived on the second floor in their own suites with private baths and sitting rooms. Lieutenants occupied single bedrooms and shared a bathroom on the top floor. The first floor was the original . . . — Map (db m54519) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 12 — Baked Fresh Daily!
Every day at the Post Bakery, fresh bread was made for the mess halls and for sale at the Post Commissary. At 3 a.m. each morning soldiers would begin baking bread to feed the hundreds of troops who would report to the mess hall at 6 a.m., noon, . . . — Map (db m54496) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 30 — Barracks Row
Enlisted men lived on Barracks Row facing the parade ground. The four identical buildings each held a full battery of 80 soldiers. The U-shaped double barracks on the far right, built in 1909, held two batteries. Each barracks had its own mess . . . — Map (db m54516) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 21 — Barracks, School, Headquarters
This barracks was built for the enlisted men at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground. After the proving ground moved to Aberdeen, Maryland, in 1919, it became the Fort Hancock School and later Headquarters for the 7th Coast Artillery Regiment. Sandy Hook . . . — Map (db m54534) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 18 — Chemical Laboratory
Cannon and artillery projectiles were not the only weapons tested at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground. Rifles, machine guns, and new types of gun powder and explosive fuses were tested there. At the chemistry lab, explosive and propellant compounds . . . — Map (db m54529) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 39 — Chow Time!
Fort Hancock’s barracks originally included barber and tailor shops, a kitchen, and a mess hall. After a few years, the army wanted more bunk space and these operations were moved to new detached mess halls built directly behind each barracks. . . . — Map (db m54439) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 36 — Company, Attention!
The parade ground is one of the most important fixtures of any military post. Here troops drilled, formed for inspection, held morning calisthenics, and paraded and reviewed for senior military officers and visiting dignitaries. Fort Hancock was . . . — Map (db m54451) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 3 — Fill’er Up!
The Fort Hancock Gas Station was operated by the Post Exchange. It was the only filling station on post where soldiers with privately owned vehicles could buy fuel or have them serviced. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54438) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 13 — Fire House Number 1
Fort Hancock’s first fire station was manned by enlisted soldiers who were the post’s firefighters. The tower at the rear of the building was used for drying hoses. Today this is the National Park Service Sandy Hook fire fighting station. Fort . . . — Map (db m54497) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 2 — Fire House Number 2
Fort Hancock’s soldiers doubled as firefighters. This firehouse was built close to Barracks Row so the soldiers who lived there could quickly get to the fire fighting equipment. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54437) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 15 — Fort Hancock Officers’ Club
This stately structure was officers’ quarters for the Sandy Hook Proving Ground until it moved to Aberdeen, Maryland, in 1919. It housed Fort Hancock officers until 1936, then it became the Officers’ Club and its red brick exterior was painted . . . — Map (db m54521) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 4 — Handball Court
In 1941, a new gymnasium was built on the other side of the YMCA. The smaller gym that stood here was demolished and the site was converted to a handball court. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54443) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 22 — Hasty Additions in Wartime
When World War II began in Europe in 1939, the U.S. Army numbered 175,000 men. By the time of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the army had swelled to over 1.5 million. To accommodate this influx, temporary wooden “mobilization” building . . . — Map (db m54536) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 27 — History House
This officer’s home, designed for a lieutenant and his family, was a testament to the rank and privilege of officers in the small peacetime army of the late 19th century. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54508) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 34 — Hospital Steward’s Quarters
The chief steward was responsible for maintaining and running operations of the Post Hospital under the directions of the Chief Medical officer. Today, the building is the NJ Audubon Society’s Sandy Hook Bird Observatory. Fort Hancock was in . . . — Map (db m54477) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 1 — Lights Out!
The beacon on the Sandy Hook Lighthouse was extinguished on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It remained dark until the end of World War II in 1945. — Map (db m54432) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 6 — Lock’em Up!
Like any small town, Fort Hancock had a jail. Military life was strict and a soldier could be punished for an offense as minor as being outside his barracks after lights-out. Military penalties could include loss of rank, heavy fines, . . . — Map (db m54466) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 19 — Locomotive Engineer’s House
The senior railroad engineer, who ran Sandy Hook’s locomotives, lived here. An extensive military railroad system carried guns and ammunition to the Sandy Hook Proving Ground and later supplied all of Fort Hancock. Today, the building is used as a . . . — Map (db m54532) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 14 — Mule Barn
In the days before automobiles, armies moved by horse and mule power. Fort Hancock stabled its army mules in this building. The teamsters, or mule skinners who drove the mule teams, lived in the house next door. In later years, the barn was . . . — Map (db m54498) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 38 — New York Yankees vs. Hometown SluggersFort Hancock
On Monday, April 5, 1943, the New York Yankees played the Fort Hancock baseball team on this very field. While future Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto were serving their country in the Armed Forces, others, including Joe Gordon and Bill . . . — Map (db m54460) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 25 — Officers Row
Eighteen houses comprise Officers Row; each was home to an officer and his family. Traditionally, officers’ homes faced toward the parade ground. Here however, army architects placed them facing Sandy Hook Bay to take advantage of the cool summer . . . — Map (db m54503) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 24 — Post Chapel
Weddings, christenings, funerals, and services of all faiths took place here in Fort Hancock’s chapel. It is one of the few surviving buildings from the pre-World War II mobilization period of 1940-41. First Sergeant Lawrence Markle, 7th Coast . . . — Map (db m54501) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 10 — Post Commissary
The commissary was a storage warehouse for provisions such as sugar, flour, coffee, canned meats, and other food stuffs needed at the mess halls. The commissary also had a small shop where army personnel and civilian employees living on post could . . . — Map (db m54489) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 8 — Post Exchange
This building was Fort Hancock’s original gymnasium and in 1941 became the Post Exchange or PX. Soldiers could buy personal items here or go bowling at the four-lane alley located in the basement. The cost for a game in 1942 was 15 cents. Fort . . . — Map (db m54470) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 32 — Post Headquarters
Here the commanding officer and his staff ran the day-to-day operations of Fort Hancock. A post of this size was usually commanded by a colonel. During World War II, Fort Hancock was headquarters for all New York Harbor Defenses under the command . . . — Map (db m54483) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 26 — Post Theater
Soldiers could catch the latest films of the day at the Post Theater, which seated 300. The average ticket price in the 1930s and 1940s was ten cents. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54506) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 20 — Proving Ground Foreman’s House
This was the home for one of the foremen at the Sandy Hook Proving Ground. After the proving ground closed in 1919, it was used for housing noncommissioned officers and their families. Today, this building is a residence for National Park Service . . . — Map (db m54533) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 11 — Quartermaster Storehouse
This warehouse was used to store uniforms, blankets, furniture, and other personal supplies for Fort Hancock’s garrison. The “Fort Hancock” painted on the roof was a marker for pilots. This was originally a two-story building and the . . . — Map (db m54491) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 7 — Sergeants’ Row
Noncommissioned Officers and their families lived in this row of houses. Single NCOs lived in the barracks with their men. Today, these homes are residences for National Park Service staff. Please respect their privacy. Fort Hancock was in . . . — Map (db m54469) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 17 — Site of Master Mechanic’s Quarters
Fort Hancock was home to both military personnel and a civilian population of contractors and specialists. The civilians who lived on post worked, shopped, and went to school alongside their military neighbors. The building that stood here was home . . . — Map (db m54528) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 33 — The Best of Care
During World War II the Post Hospital became the focal point of a medical complex that served not only the garrison stationed here but also troops returning home from Europe. Fire destroyed the hospital in 1985. Fort Hancock was in operation from . . . — Map (db m54478) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 35 — The Dead House
This was the morgue for the Post Hospital. The soldiers called it the Dead House. It was later used as a U.S. Army recruiting office. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to 1974. — Map (db m54479) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 16 — The World War II Years
During World War II, Fort Hancock’s population swelled to over 10,000 and dozens of temporary wooden barracks and mess halls were built. More than 3,000 coast artillerymen were stationed here for New York Harbor defense, and thousands of others . . . — Map (db m54524) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 37 — This Is Why It’s Called Sandy Hook!
Fort Hancock was built on sand. To stabilize the ground, topsoil was imported in the early 1900s. A layer of earth several inches deep was added to the parade ground and to other areas around the post. Fort Hancock was in operation from 1895 to . . . — Map (db m54453) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 28 — World War II Victory GardenFort Hancock
Plant a Victory GardenAfter World War II began, nearly all of America’s industries converted to wartime production. Companies that built radios, cars and refrigerators began to manufacture jeeps, trucks and planes. This placed a great strain on . . . — Map (db m54509) HM
New Jersey (Monmouth County), Sandy Hook — 5 — Young Men’s Christian Association
YMCAs on military posts were places for rest and recreation and were built by private contributions. The Fort Hancock Y offered refreshments, game rooms, and a reading room. Visiting families could stay in rooms on the top floor. The one-story wing . . . — Map (db m54446) HM

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