Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Northern Early America
One of the nation's most famous forts, Fort McHenry was named to honor James McHenry, a citizen of Baltimore who became US Secretary of War in 1798. Fort Whetstone, an earthwork fort, was first here in 1776 - 1783. Along with Fell's Point Battery (1776 - 83), they were Baltimore's only defenses in the American Revolution. Fort McHenry is the site of the major British bombardment in 1814 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" national anthem.
The fort was rebuilt in 1829-36 to the present layout. Rodman cannon were installed in 1866, and all the other old cannon were removed by 1895. The Rodmans were last fired in 1903. The fort was abandoned in 1912, but the military used it as a hospital from 1917-23. All the hospital buildings were removed. Some buildings still exist as part of the Naval Supply base adjacent to the fort. From 1942-45 a Coast Guard Training Station was outside the fort. These buildings also no longer exist. It became a National Park in 1925 administered by the Army until 1933.
Thanks to Phil Payette at American Forts Network for the above picture and information.
Individual - Adult (17 or older)
$5.00 - 7 Days
Entrance fee to the historic fort is $ 5.00 for adults 17 and over. Children 16 and under are admitted free of charge.
Operating Hours & Seasons
Grounds: Daily, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fort and Visitor Center: Daily, 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Summer Hours (early June - early September): Grounds: Daily, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Fort and Visitor Center: Daily: 8:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1.
Pets are allowed outside of the historic zone, an area bounded by a split rail fence and including and surrounding the historic Star Fort. They must be leashed at all times and owners must pick up after their pets.
The park is located within ten miles of BWI Airport.
The park is three miles southeast of the Baltimore Inner Harbor and just off I-95. Follow blue/green Fort McHenry directional signs along all major routes to the park. From I-95 northbound or southbound, take Exit 55 Key Highway and follow Fort McHenry signs on Key Highway to Lawrence Street. Turn left on Lawrence Street and then left on Fort Avenue. Proceed one mile to the park.
From the Inner Harbor, take Light Street south to Key Highway. Turn left and follow the Fort McHenry signs to Lawrence Street. Turn right on Lawrence Street and then left on Fort Avenue to the park.
Maryland Transit Administration (MTA, 866-RIDE-MTA) Bus #1 stops at the park main gate. From there it is a 100 yard walk to the Visitor Center and Star Fort.
During the spring through fall, Ed Kane's Water Taxi provides transportation from the Inner Harbor to a dock at Hull Street in the nearby community (approximately a 15 minute walk), and provides a "jitney" bus shuttle to the park. Call ahead for the latest schedule. (410-563-3901)
During the spring through fall and intermittently through the winter, the National Historic Seaport Taxi provides transportation directly to a city-leased dock at Fort McHenry. Call ahead for the latest schedule. (410-675-2900).
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