Glenn “Doc” Dochtermann has spent 48 years working for state parks and historic sites on the East Coast. He ran one of Connecticut’s most-visited state parks as well as the historic site at the home of landscape artist Frederic Church in New York’s Hudson Valley. But in his estimation, none of Dochtermann’s previous jobs compare to his current role as park manager of Fort McClary State Historic Site in Kittery, a 17th-century fortress at the site of Maine’s first harbor.

Three times a year, historical reenactments take place at Fort McClary, one of Maine’s most visited historic parks. Dochtermann stays busy building trails, planning reenactments and helping to renovate the state’s southern-most historic site.

How many years have you been at Fort McClary?

I’ve been here 15 years. I started as a ranger, then an assistant manager, and now the manager. Before that, I worked in New York state for 20 years in conservation and 10 years in Connecticut at state parks and historic sites. So I’ve spent my career in conservation.

How are Maine parks different from the parks in New York and Connecticut?

They’re similar. Fort McClary has a high attendance, about 30,000 to 35,000 a year. I worked at some with larger attendance. I worked in New York at Olana, which had 20,000 to 30,000 a year. That was Frederic Church’s home. He was an early landscape painter from the 1800s. He was so famous in his house there was a letter from Mark Twain on his desk that said he did a nice job with his paintings.

And in Connecticut, I worked at a state park that probably had a million people a year, but it was close to New York City. That was Sherwood Island State Park, just 35 miles from New York City. It’s not a historic site, but it was packed every weekend.

Fort McClary is in a good location where people are entering into Maine. If they like it here, they’ll go up to other historic sites.

People often get off Route 1 onto scenic Route 103 and they find us. It’s like a gateway to Maine.

Fredric Church painted Mount Katahdin, so that park you worked at in New York had some Maine ties. What did you do there?

I worked at Olana as the naturalist, so I worked on the trails and the nature trail guides. It was a wonderful place. It had a heart-shaped pond he made for his wife that on a clear day reflects the castle there. And the carriage roads were beautiful. That park had a high attendance.

You’ve worked at some wonderful state parks. How does Fort McClary compare?

It is one of my favorites. As a kid my parents took me up to Maine to York Beach, and when I got married my wife and I honeymooned in Ogunquit, and when we had children we brought them to Maine. Now our kids bring their children here. It’s always been very close to me. I’ve always loved the ocean. And I said one day I want to retire in Maine.

I am very, very happy to have found this opportunity. I spent 48 years in conservation and it’s what I’m still doing. I love the ocean, I love the history, I love the trails. It’s just perfect. I live in Alfred, but if I could live next to Fort McClary I would. I think of it as an extension of my backyard. Everything I want to do here, if we get the funding, we’ll do.

We got a $25,000 grant for the Rifleman’s House; it is the only brick rifle house from the 1812-era in the country. It needs a new roof and we needed to raise the funds.

But the (Friends of Fort McClary) are raising $25,000 and we got a matching $25,000 grant. We will be able to refurbish the red brick and the roof, the windows and the doors. We couldn’t have done it without the Friends group. That building is one we don’t want to lose.

We are also getting two cannons from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; they are World War II cannons. They should be here by Labor Day. Then we’ll have a celebration. They are 6,000- to 8,000-pound cannons.

Why do you love cannons?

They should be part of any fort. When I first came here, I remember a 12-year-old boy walking through with his dad, and the kid said to his father, ‘How can there be no cannons at a fort? What kind of fort is this?’ And he looked up at me and then looked away. And I looked at him and said, ‘You’re right.’ So we have worked hard to get cannons back. We have one from 1820 in the blockhouse.

Will you fire the cannons?

No. We won’t fire them. But cannons were an important part of American history. The fort wasn’t used in the American Revolution, but it was used to protect the harbor in 1812, in the Spanish-American War, and also in World War I as an observation platform. So it’s a really big thing to have cannons.

There are so many forts in Maine I’m fond of, and some are thought to be haunted. Is Fort McClary?

Supposedly a woman at the entrance was killed in 1902. She was hit in a horse and buggy by a train. People say she occasionally walks the road. Some volunteers who have worked during historical reenactments at the blockhouse say they hear noises. There is no power, there is no water, it’s dark at night in the blockhouse. People hear things. If someone is locking up (the park) at night and they’ve left something in the blockhouse, they usually say, ‘I’ll get it tomorrow.’

But they say a woman was killed by a trolley in 1902, and in 1920 a woman was killed waiting for a trolley down at the bottom of the road. Who knows what’s lurking around after an untimely death?