Fort Washington

Fort Washington Travel Blog

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the Visitor Center

The first fort protecting Washington DC was destroyed during the War of 1812.  Plans were quickly drafted by Pierre L'Enfant to design a new fort, but disagreements between the man and the government forced a delay in the building process.  The fort officially opened in 1824 and was manned for over a century with its most important time of service being during the Civil War.

Parking is a short distance from the yellow Visitor Center which has a few exhibit rooms, a restroom, and a bookstore.  Stopping here first gave me the chance to pick up a self guided tour of the fort.  I paused to look at the fort from the Visitor Center before walking the few mintues downhill to it.

I marveled at the mechanism that used to work the drawbridge.

lantern in one of the casements
  On the main parade ground, I noticed the 95-foot tall flagpole.  The flag flown during the fort's years of service could be seen by those living in Alexandria well across the river.  I then explored the northwest demi-bastion.  Designed to fire guns from two different levels, I enjoyed peeking into the lower rooms (the casements) which actually were never used to fire weapons (instead they stored supplies and even housed women workers for a time).  Above, I walked around the former gun positions and followed the wall across the top of the main gate and behind the barracks (not open to the public although it was possible to pick in through the windows and see either repair work or a few display cases).  At a few spots I looked out across the river and could see DC in the distance, the Washington Monument sticking up.  The Postern Gate and Sally Port provided glimpses of the world beyond the walls.

Later I walked down to the waterfront area where at one time another set of cannons had waited to attack the enemy.  These cannons could skip their cannonballs across the water and cause low hull damage.

vulindlela says:
That's cool!
I would like to see this sometime...
Posted on: Jan 04, 2010
diisha392 says:
The forts made for a nice day trip; have fun!
Posted on: Jan 03, 2010
alexindc says:
I need to check these out!
Posted on: Jan 03, 2010
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Less than a ten-minute drive from Fort Washington, the remains of Fort Foote are one of the few reminders of the 68 forts that once defended Washington DC during the Civil War.  I had known that the capital had extra protection during the war but I had no idea how extensive that system had been.  Wandering around in the wooded area where the fort had once been, I was fairly unimpressed, just seeing hills of dirt, now covered in grass.  Then I came over the top of one of the embankments and two huge cannons (15-inch barrels) loomed over the river.  The weapons, too awkward and large to move, were left from the time that the fort was operational.  With the leaves down, I was able to see the river fairly well although the view of DC was obstructed.

The area has quite a few picnic tables available for relaxed meals.

the Visitor Center
the Visitor Center
lantern in one of the casements
lantern in one of the casements
main parade ground
main parade ground
gun platforms
gun platforms
DC
DC
Officers Quarters
Officers' Quarters
the gun platform again
the gun platform again
back of the Officers Quarters
back of the Officers' Quarters
Main gate
Main gate
flag
flag
back of the Enlisted Barracks
back of the Enlisted Barracks
relief map of the fort
relief map of the fort
fort from the Visitor Center
fort from the Visitor Center
wheelwork for the drawbridge
wheelwork for the drawbridge
looking down into the demi-bastion
looking down into the demi-bastion
looking up at the main gate from t…
looking up at the main gate from …
looking into a casement
looking into a casement
another casement
another casement
looking out from a casement
looking out from a casement
through the window of a casement
through the window of a casement
lighthouse
lighthouse
cannon
cannon
door of the Officers Quarters
door of the Officers' Quarters
outer walls
outer walls
up to the Sally Port
up to the Sally Port
Sally Port door
Sally Port door
Postern Gate
Postern Gate
looking through the Postern Gate
looking through the Postern Gate
looking down into the southwest de…
looking down into the southwest d…
Officers Quarters
Officers' Quarters
waterfront battery
waterfront battery
over at Fort Foote
over at Fort Foote
a size comparison
a size comparison
a map of the 68 forts protecting D…
a map of the 68 forts protecting …
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Fort Washington
photo by: diisha392