As the summer tourist season gets underway,
last week added another attraction. For the first time, visitors to the national landmark located in South Baltimore will get the same view of the fort —from the water — that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem during the War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore.
The Fort McHenry Boat Tour: A Star-Spangled Experience runs every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, through Sept. 15 and is expected to return next summer. Seven tours depart daily, on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours leave from the Fort McHenry Pier at 2400 East Fort Ave.
The 45-minute narrated tour recounts Key’s experience during September 1814. There are “special audio effects. We’ve got all the bells and whistles, bombs and music,” says Lisa Lynn Hansen, director of Friends of Fort McHenry
, a nonprofit that works with the National Park Service to provide educational programs and living history activities.
The Friends of Fort McHenry, Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, Living Classrooms Foundation
and Baltimore Water Taxi partnered to create the tour, which is expected to be an annual summertime offering.
A $33,000 grant from the the state's Maryland War of 1812 Commission funded the effort. Students from the Baltimore School for the Arts
narrate the tour while El-J Productions
produced the script and sound effects. Baltimore Water Taxi is providing the 49-passenger boats under a charter arrangement with Friends of Fort McHenry.
Fort McHenry drew 850,000 visitors last year. Hansen says the main challenge in arranging the boat tour was setting the length of the tour. “We didn’t want to take them out on the water too long. They’ve come to tour the fort and this is an add-on,” she says.
Friends also wanted to make the boat tour affordable. Visitors can walk around the grounds of the fort for free. A tour of the fort costs $7 per adult, children under age 16 are free. The boat tour costs $10 per adult (age 11 and up) and $5 per child (ages 3 to 10). Tickets are sold at dockside on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Source: Lisa Lynn Hansen, Friends of Fort McHenry
Writer: Barbara Pash