Water Gate

Fort Washington

On the same day I went to Fort Foote, I kept on driving south into Maryland until I got to Fort Washington, proper. Fort Washington the fort is located in Fort Washington, the town, and to arrive there you drive through some rambling suburban tracts. Like Fort Foote, Fort Washington sits on the banks of the Potomac River atop a peninsula formed by Piscataway Creek’s entrance into the Potomac River. It, however, was not intended to be a temporary site but rather has been occupied and fortified since before the War of 1812. Its use as an active military base ended after World War II, but most of the structures you see were built between 1800 and 1918.

These first two images are of the gate in the early 19th century fortifications. This was the entrance that connects the hilltop fortifications to the water battery at river level.

Earthworks
Earthworks
Water Gate
Water Gate

The water battery structures date to the first decades of the 20th century. You can see they are much lower, made of steel and concrete. The front side is protected by an earthen berm. The bunkers would have held the troops manning the now-dismounted cannon and communications equipment to control the batteries from within the fort.

There is something both ominous and at the same time hopeful about these structures, viewed from the land side. The bunker doorway looks like an entrance to the underworld.

Water Battery Entrance
Water Battery Entrance

The stairs, however, now stripped of their weaponry, point to an upward journey, facing the unknown. They’re the prow of a ship, a pathway to adventure, or perhaps a Mayan temple at whose top great mysteries will be revealed.

Water Battery Stairs
Water Battery Stairs

The clouds above tease the possibility of rain, but it will be a gentle rain, not a thundering downpour. They’re the gateway to the horizon.

Water Battery Stairs
Water Battery Stairs

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