PlanPhilly

Explore Fort Mifflin ruins (new and old) this Sunday and next

RUINS AT HIGH BATTERY: OPEN HOUSE

Sunday, June 16, 2-4pm and Sunday, June 23, 2-5pm

Meet the artists behind The Ruins Of High Battery and explore Fort Mifflin on Mud Island.

Tickets and additional information are available here.

For the next two Sundays the Hidden City Festival invites guests to step into a space where it’s not quite clear what’s new, what’s old and what could be part of some post-apocalyptic future. 

As part of this year's Festival, artists Ben Neiditz and Zach Webber have created Ruins at High Battery on the Delaware River’s Mud Island, home of Fort Mifflin. Where a long abandoned gun emplacement hides – mixed in with thriving vegetation and hidden brick, stone and concrete chunks – Ruins at High Battery has built new, improvised structures out of salvaged wood and other found materials. 

The new structures range from grass huts to small buildings, boardwalks and lookout towers. The original structures include the remnants of cave-like, brick and concrete gun emplacements, as well as unidentifiable ruins. 

    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
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Festival-goers are allowed to meander along the southern edge of Mud Island and explore both the newly added and long standing ruins. Identifying which came first is particularly challenging with some of the structures, but that’s the idea. Neiditz and Webber hope their work will blur the lines between new and old. Luckily for them, Fort Mifflin has plenty of old.

The fort was built beginning in 1771, captured by the British in 1777 and later reclaimed by the U.S. It was used as a prison during the Civil War, decommissioned by the military in 1962 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970, nearly two hundred years after its construction. 

    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
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In the 1870s, gun emplacements were built on the southern edge of Mud Island and that area became known as the “High Battery.” Brave festival attendees can walk inside two of these structures located along the Ruins at High Battery trail. Dark, coated with mold and harboring the beginning of some cave formations, those ruins may not appeal to all. Though for some, these features might add to the adventure. 

    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
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If you decide to go, be sure to wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Neidtiz said all ladders are fair game, but warned they're only for one climber at a time.

Some ruins are easier to find than others, so take your time walking through and keep your eyes peeled. Be sure to watch for the somewhat hidden trail that breaks off and heads to the boardwalk. From there you will find one of Philadelphia’s unique, secluded views of the Delaware River. 

    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at the High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at the High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
    • Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
      Ruins at High Battery, Hidden City Festival
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About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. 



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