Gumbo was visiting Fort Frederick in Maryland. No one correctly recognized where we were at this week.
I’ve driven Interstate 70 many times and passed by the exit to Fort Frederick State Park. Since becoming a somewhat active member of TravelGumbo, I’ve learned the discipline of visiting historical sites when the opportunity arises. Fort Frederick was a very nice surprise and only a couple miles from the interstate. Ample parking and easy to follow signage made the experience enjoyable. Employees in period dress and the Park Ranger were very helpful in explaining the history of the fort and showing me the most interesting barracks rooms. Unfortunately the Visitor Center that was supposed to be open was locked up due to an employee confusing their work schedule.
The fort was built by the colony of Maryland in 1756 to protect the western frontier during the French and Indian War and also to discourage Indian raids within the colony. Inside the four feet thick stone walls were two large professional soldier enlisted barracks and one officer’s quarters. Due to the fort’s formidable size and construction, it was never attacked. During the American War for Independence (1775-1783) the fort was used as a prison to house thousands of captured British soldiers primarily from the Saratoga and Yorktown battles.
I found it somewhat ironic that the fort used in wars against the French and then the British, was designed by the British for the colony of Maryland based on the design of a French engineer. The fort’s only gate was topped with spikes and always kept closed except for the passage of supply wagons. Personnel had to enter through small wicket gates. The well was inside the fort to always ensure a protected water supply. The area inside the fort was two acres which was large for a frontier fort.
Governor Horatio Sharpe of the colony of Maryland lived in the officer’s quarters while supervising the construction of the fort and also supervising the attack on Fort Duquesne in my hometown of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Only the outline of the foundation of the officer’s quarters exists today. The two two-story barrack’s buildings house a series of rooms with unearthed artifacts and also staged to depict the life and functions of the military and prisoners. The bastions at the corners of the wall are diamond shaped and were fortified with a six-pound cannon.
From 1860 until 1911 the fort was owned and farmed by the Nathan Williams who was the son of a former slave. In 1922, the State of Maryland purchased the fort and expanded the environs into a park. In 1974, Fort Frederick was designated a National Historic Landmark. Fort Frederick State Park now includes a number of activities including picnicking, camping, boating, fishing, hiking and more.
More scenes of visiting the Fort follow: