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While my parents were here visiting we took a trip to Fort McHenry. In all the years I’ve lived in Baltimore neither Mom, Dad, nor Z, had been. With the 30-something degree weather we bundled up and headed across town.

Fort McHenry Visitor Center

Visitor and education center

They’ve done a lot of renovation of the Visitor Center since I last visited. A separate room with a series of informational displays on Baltimore history has been added. Since my family is all about museums and history these days this was right up our alley.

Fort McHenry Visitor Center displays

For those who may not know, the events that took place at Fort McHenry were the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Fort McHenry Visitor Center start spangled banner

Once finished browsing the museum it was time to don our hats and gloves and head up to the fort.

O’er The Ramparts

Did you know?:  A “rampart” is the name of the wall of the fort.

Fort McHenry ramparts

An American flag flies over Fort McHenry 24 hours a day, although the type varies based on the weather. A large flag, like the one on the right, might not do so well in a hurricane or blizzard.

Before heading into the fort itself we checked out some of the pathways along its perimeter. Unfortunately, we were met with a crisp cold breeze coming off the water. The smiles in the picture below were merely hiding our discomfort at the time…

Fort McHenry K and Z cannons

Once inside the fort we entered into a courtyard surrounded by buildings. Each was heated (hooray!) and contained different exhibits with displays and artifacts.

Fort McHenry Inside the Fort

The History of Fort McHenry (According to Me):

I’m certainly no historian, but here’s what I learned from our visit…

During the War of 1812 Fort McHenry was the site of a battle with the British, who were attempting to capture Baltimore and its ports. The British started in DC, burning the Capitol and White House, before heading up the bay.

The placement of the fort, plus its plethora cannons, led to a victory for Baltimore soldiers. At the end of the battle, Francis Scott Key saw the US flag still flying in the distance, signaling a victory and serving as inspiration for what would become our National Anthem.

Fort McHenry Cannon and flag

It was an interesting tour. As I said, I had been before but didn’t get a chance to see all the exhibits. I ended up learning a lot about my town that I didn’t know before. Baltimore is so much more than the Inner Harbor and sports teams; it’s full of history. Call me a nerd, but I think that’s pretty cool.

Fort McHenry Monument and Historic Shrine

For anyone in the Baltimore area looking for an activity to do with out of town guests, or even for yourself, I would recommend this. Tickets were only $7, and not only do you get a history lesson, but some great views of the Inner Harbor as well. My only suggestion: wait for the weather to warm up first.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Is there a historic monument in your town? Have you ever been?