During WW2, Nahant played a key role in the harbor defenses of Boston. Four different batteries of coast artillery were located here, including Battery Murphy on East Point (two 16-inch guns), Battery Gardner at Fort. Ruckman (two 12-inch guns), Battery 206 at East Point (two of the newer 6-inch guns) and a temporary battery of two 155 mm guns that was emplaced at the tip of East Point early in 1942 while the other batteries were being built. In addition, a battery of three 3-inch antiaircraft guns was emplaced a short distance NW of Fort Ruckman, on what are now town-owned playing fields.
These emplaceements made Nahant the most heavily armed site in the entire harbor defense system, The location of the Nahant peninsula, jutting out toward the northern approches to Boston, and its height above sea level likely led to its priority as a site for coast artillery. The 16-inch, 12-inch, and 6-inch gun batteries were designated by the Army as three of the five top assets in the Boston Harbor defenses, in terms of tactical importance (the other two being the 16" guns of Battery Long in Hull and the 6" guns of Battery Jewell on Outer Brewster Island).
During the WW2 period, Nahant was also the site of five fire control structures (FCSs), making it second only to the pre-war complex at Fort Dawes (Deer Island) in terms of importance for the harbor's fire control system capacity. Four of the tall fire control towers were located there--two 8-story towers on Swallow Cave Rd. and two 6-story towers, one just west of Ft. Ruckman and one to the northweast of East Point, just off what is now Nahant Rd. In addition a fifth structure, a dual-station fire control cottage indicated on the map in Slide 2 at left as Location 131 Site 5A,, was located to the north and east of the Nahant Rd. tower, above a rock formation known as Spouting Horn (see Slides 3 and 4 at left). This structure was destroyed after the war, and a private home was built on the site. These structures were added to three older, pre-war fire control positions that were located in a 1920s-era building on the northern end of Bayley's Hill at Ft. Ruckman. [A target tracking radar for the Nike missile defense system was built in the 1950s even closer to the northern tip of Bayley's Hill.] East Point was also the location of the operations bunker for the northern group of magnetic loop cables that were used to warn of ships approaching Boston Harbor. This bunker still exists today.
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Suggested Reading: A very useful volume for those interested in exploring Nahant's coast defense assets in more detail is Gerald W. Butler's fine work, "Military Annals of Nahant, Massachusetts." Liberally illustrated with photographs and also with unique drawings by the author, based upon his research at the Nahant gun batteries, this 383-page soft cover book was published by the Nahant Historical Society in 1996, and is available from them.