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 post Civil War
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.
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.