Fort Carroll
courtesy Chris Detrick

In the mid-nineteenth century, Baltimore’s ports needed increased protection along the Patapsco River for the routes between Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay. By 1848, the United States War Department had the green light to begin construction on Fort Carroll, a hexagonal structure designed by Robert E. Lee.

The fort would be named for Declaration of Independence-signer Charles Carroll in 1850, and saw use in the Civil War despite not yet being fully completed.  Fort Carroll was planned to have four levels, the first of which cost one million dollars to complete.

(cover photo: Chris Detrick)


Fort Carroll


Fort Carroll post Civil War

Fort Carroll 1928
Fort Carroll 1928

After the Civil War, Fort Carroll did not see action again until the Spanish-American War in 1898; however by then the Fort’s batteries (fortified locations for heavy guns) were completely obsolete.

The Army decided to create three new batteries which were completed in September of 1900, well after the end of the war.

By this time, the War Department saw the Fort as little more than a relic from a bygone era, with walls that would be destroyed by the canons of newer ships.

Fort Carroll 1948
Fort Carroll 1948

The fort would not see action again. By the time World War I came around, the Army had removed all the guns from the island for re-appropriation.

By March of 1921 the Army officially abandoned the fort and relocated all remaining equipment to nearby Fort Howard.

During World War II, the Army used the abandoned fort as a firing range. After World War II, the fort would be abandoned once again.


Fort Carroll was eventually privately purchased in 1958 by a Baltimore attorney, but the island was never developed.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)


Fort Carroll Today

Today the Fort sits abandoned and inaccessible since the landing platform’s girders have completely rusted away.

Seagulls have reclaimed the property and have turned it into a bird sanctuary.

Fort Carroll
aerial photo courtesy Lloyd Fox




  1. i personally enjoy stories with a sence of history. Port Carrol is a place that was forgetten by most folks, and nearly inaccessible, but due to this speciaj character, it is filled with mystery and the feeling of time,which makes it hard to forget

  2. Looks like a great spot to get away from the zombies you know they can’t swim!? No but on some real talk this would be a cool place to sneak and see. since I’ll never get there thank you for the article.

  3. I don’t travel, for many reasons, so your blogs are so welcome. This is wonderful, it looks enchanting, glad the birds are making good use of it. I would so dearly love to be able to putter around (not disturbing anything or taking anything but pictures) these places. Thank-you.

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