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Civil War Defenses of Washington

Rock Creek Park, 5200 Glover Road Northwest, Washington, DC 20015, USA

At the outset of the Civil War, a system of flanking forts and batteries was constructed around Washington. One such spot was Fort Massachusetts, built along the Seventh Street Pike, a thoroughfare leading to and from Washington. The fort was enlarged on two occasions. In 1863 its name was changed to Fort Stevens, in memory of Brigadier Gen. Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who lost his life at Chantilly, Virginia. On July 11, 1864, Fort Stevens was the site of the only battle within the District of Columbia. Fort Stevens is one of the defenses that today form the Fort Circle Parks in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Rock Creek Park administers Battery Kemble, Fort Bayard, Fort Reno, Fort DeRussy, Fort Stevens, Fort Slocum, Fort Totten and Fort Bunker Hill. For more information and the brochure "Civil War Defenses of Washington, " contact the Rock Creek Nature Center at (202) 895-6070. (See also entries in this guide for Fort Foote in Fort Washington, Maryland, and Fort Ward in Alexandria, Virginia.)


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Take Route 66 across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. Get in the right lane on the bridge, and take the ramp for Independence Avenue. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp (heading towards the Kennedy Center along the river; this is Ohio Drive, but it's not marked as such). After passing the Kennedy Center (under its terrace) and Watergate, continue straight onto Rock Creek Parkway. When the parkway ends (near Connecticut and Calvert), continue north on Beach Drive. You will pass the zoo and Pierce Mill. Continue on Beach Drive until you see a sign for the Nature Center; bear left here (onto Glover Road), as the sign instructs. (*On weekends there will be a gate across Beach Drive, so you will be unable to go to the right) Follow the signs to the Nature Center. Via the Beltway or Maryland: Take the Beltway north into Maryland; exit at Connecticut Ave. and proceed southbound toward Chevy Chase. About 7-8 blocks south of Chevy Chase Circle, turn left onto Military Road. Go a little over a mile, and you will see a big brown sign that says "ROCK CREEK PARK-NATURE CENTER..."etc. Take the next right (at the traffic light), as the sign instructs, and follow subsequent signs to the Nature Center.

Visitor Services

Picnic areas, restrooms, community gardens, sports fields and courts, hiking trails, living history programs, lectures. Call about ranger led tours and special ceremonies.

Plan Your Visit

Admission Fee



Daily: Sunrise to sunset. Rock Creek Nature Center: Wednesday - Sunday 9:00AM - 5:00PM



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