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The Path to Fort Rodney | by Chris Hunkeler
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The Path to Fort Rodney

Rodger on the path leading up from the US Signal Station to Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island.

 

US Signal Station, 1941

 

Nearly two centuries after Rodney recognized its importance, Pigeon Island was again used as a strategic base, during World War II. This US Signal Station was built over Rodney’s existing mortar battery dating from 1780, and Pigeon Island served as a US naval communications signal station until 1947.

 

The inclined cable lift, to the east, was used to haul up diesel fuel to power the generators. The wireless and transmitter receiving mast was atop Fort Rodney. *

 

Fort Rodney, 1778

 

Saint Lucia and the Pitons lie to the south-east, and on a clear day, Martinique can be seen to the north.

 

Pigeon Island, only some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the French base at Fort Royal, Martinique, had long been recognized by the British Admiral Rodney as an important observation and defensive site. In 1780 he wrote “… this is the post the Governor of Martinique had set his eye on and if possessed by the enemy would deprive us of the best anchorage place in these islands and from which Martinique is always attackable…”

 

Fort Rodney was built in 1778 with an armament of three 24-pounders and two eleven and a half-inch mortars. The cannons sat on timbers on the cobblestone platform, and the platform also served as a water catchment as you can see by the little drain around the walls that runs into the well. Water was used on the gun platform to swab the hot cannons and to remove gunpowder that did not ignite. For drinking, the water was filtered through a three-gallon limestone filter.

 

Next to the well you can see the power magazine, a cool underground chamber where the gunpowder was kept. **

 

* Unknown author. 1975. "US Signal Station, 1941" Saint Lucia National Trust. HISTORIC SIGN 2018-03-11.

** Unknown author. 1975. "Fort Rodney, 1778" Saint Lucia National Trust. HISTORIC SIGN 2018-03-11.

 

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Taken on March 11, 2018