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Fort Reno

Bounded by Belt Road, Fessenden Street, Reno Road, and Chesapeake Street, NW

Th U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed Fort Reno (originally called Fort Pennsylvania) in the winter of 1861and is one of a ring of Civil War defenses around the City of Washington.

The site was selected for its strategic location in relation to the Rockville Pike (Wisconsin Avenue) and had excellent sight lines, especially to the west.

One could stand at the top of the hill between Donaldson and Fessenden Streets and on a clear day see to what is now Tyson’s Corner, and even the Shenandoah Mountains. The view remains today.

The addition of an advanced battery across what is now Fessenden Street, and a double line of rifle trenches contributed to making the fortification the largest and strongest of the ring forts.

General Early’s advance near Rockville, MD on July 11, 1864 was first observed by soldiers at Fort Reno.

Following the Civil War, an integrated suburban type development, Reno City, occupied a large area in the southwestern part of the Reservation.

In the early 20th century, the stone water towers were built and a reservoir constructed underground.

By the mid-1940s, Reno City had essentially disappeared. The highest elevation in Washington, DC is located at Fort Reno, on the knoll just west of Alice Deal Junior High School. 

(Listed in DC Inventory of Historic Sites, 1964)




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