Fort Carroll is a 19th century fortress built about 5 miles southeast of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. It is also right in the shadow of the Baltimore Beltway as it crosses the Patapsco over the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge. It is a hexagonal 3 1/2 acre artificial island that was started in 1847 to protect Baltimore from another invasion like the one in 1812. Fort McHenry was just too close to the city to effectively defend it from invaders anymore. As an intresting sidenote, Robert E. Lee supervised the beginning of construction, but then was appointed superintendent of West Point. Lack of funding and the soft muddy bottom of the Patapsco River caused construction to grind along slowly, and the original plan for the fort to have three levels of gun emplacements totaling about 300 guns was scaled back to 2 levels, with about 30 cannon in place during the War Between the States.
After the war, the fort started to slowly sink into the mud, and was abandoned until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898. The United States Army put in several batteries of guns, ranging from 5 inches to fifteen inches at the fortress to defend Baltimore, but they were not ready until after the war. By World War I the capabilities of modern battleships made the fort obsolete, and it was officially abandoned in 1921, and its equipment moved to nearby Fort Howard. An automated lighthouse remained for a few more years, but it too was abandoned.
Since then, the fort has sat vacant, except for thousands of nesting seagulls and other birds, and it is still sinking into the harbor. Over the years since, plans have been made to use the fort as a casino, prison, statue, park, or museum, but all of these plans have come to naught. The birds still roost on the parapets, and the only human visitors are mostly the occasional fisherman or boater who (illegally, since the fort is now privately owned) venture on to the grounds of the fort from the decaying boat landing.
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