Fort McHenry is conveniently located in Baltimore, Maryland and has two relatively large parking lots for visitors. Despite its city location, Fort McHenry is not particularly accessible using public transportation, but it is an easy drive from D.C. to Baltimore. Once you park in the parking lot, you can view the exhibits on display and get four different stamps for the National Parks passport.
Fort McHenry’s main claim to fame is that the defense of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” While the original flag is not visible at the fort (It’s in the Smithsonian American History Museum under very dim lights, making it a bit underwhelming.), a colonial flag flies over the fort now. The original flag was 30 x 42 feet, and it actually inspired Francis Scott Key from a few miles away.
Fort McHenry itself is shaped like a star, and it was built with the intention to protect Baltimore from both a land and sea attack. Interestingly enough, the entrance to the fort was actually the most dangerous part at one point, although that problem was eventually fixed. When we entered the fort, there were four different sets of barracks and quarters, and many of them had exhibits inside each area. The exhibits explained the lives of the soldiers and different aspects of life at Fort McHenry. It seems that the fort saw most of its action in the War of 1812.
This fort was much closer to the water than Fort Washington so the protection seemed to be increased as well. This location was also very beautiful as a look-out point, and I would recommend walking the perimeter of the fort to lookout over the water.
After visiting Fort Washington a few weeks ago, this fort was a much different experience. First of all, this fort saw a lot more action in battle so it has been updated and changed over the years. It is also significantly smaller than Fort Washington, and it is a much more curated experience. Both forts have merits, although I found Fort Washington a bit more mysterious and much quieter.
Fort McHenry does charge a visitors fee of $10/person, but the visit was free for Cacia and me with my National Parks pass. This brought my total pass value up to $242/$80. I’ve used my parks pass for three times its original value, and I have only had it for six months!
That is all for this week! While I have managed to post weekly since I started my blog, as the winter gets closer, it seems likely that I will not have as frequent of visits to the National Parks service. I hope to have another parks adventure to write about soon. Thanks for reading.