Fort Totten Now

 

 

Fort Totten is located atop a hill behind the Fort Totten station on the Washington, DC Metro.  This photo was taken from the entrance road to the station, off Riggs Road.  The site is at the center of the photo, atop the hill.  During the war, the entire hilltop was cleared to provide an unobstructed view and field of fire covering the valley.  A small battery was located at the north end of the ridge, the near end in the photo, with the fort itself about 1,000 feet behind.

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This photo shows the access road from Totten Park Drive.  This is not the wartime access road.  That road, according to available drawings, was located in the closest grove of trees at the left of the photo.  Today, you walk up the access road to the highest point seen here, then enter the woods at the center of the photo.  The fort is about 50 feet into the woods.

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This photo shows a portion of the ramparts, the earthen walls surrounding the fort.  Originally some seven to eight feet high, most of what remains is perhaps three feet high.  The seven foot deep ditch outside the ramparts has disappeared.  Interestingly, the interior of the fort has a rather pronounced slope.  It is unclear whether this reflects the fort's original construction, geologic change in the area, or settling of the excavated areas in the fort.

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This mound may (or may not!) be the remnants of a "bombproof," an underground chamber protected by up to twelve feet of earth over a timber roof.  It may instead be another part of the ramparts which has survived to a greater extent.

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This low mound, perhaps 18 inches high, appears to be the remains of a rifle trench running south of the fort.  Rifle trenches connected the forts and batteries to make a continuous line of defense surrounding the city.

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This photo was taken from south of the fort, looking back to the north.  The fort is just inside the woods at the center.  The rifle trench shown above is at the edge of the woods, across the access road from the large tree on the right side of the photo.  The cleared area contained barracks, officers' quarters, a mess house and other support structures.  Today it is a picnic area.
 

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These photos were taken during a visit to the site in April, 1999.  The lighting conditions were far from ideal, as you can see.  Some computer enhancement was performed.
 

Getting to Fort Totten

To get to the site today by public transportation, take the Red Line on the Washington, DC Metro to the Fort Totten station.  This is three stops north of Union Station.  Upon leaving the station doors, turn left on the nearest sidewalk.  Watch for a paved path leading to the left across a field, marked by a National Park Service sign mentioning Rock Creek Park.  A five-minute walk on this path will take you to Totten Park Drive.  Turn left; you will have to cross the street to reach the sidewalk.  Another five minutes will bring you to the entrance, marked by another National Park Service sign.

To drive to the site, find the intersection of Riggs Road and Totten Park Drive.  It is in the northeast quadrant, about three miles due north of the Capitol.  One way to get there is north on Georgia Avenue to Missouri Avenue to Riggs Road.  Drive south on Totten Park Drive to the entrance.