Colonel Lee's Birdhouse
Driving north across the Francis Scott Key Bridge, looking south, it's the hexagonal chunk of brown granite poking its head above the surface of the Patapsco River -- a landmark that many-a-time has inspired the question, "What is that?" That's Fort Carroll, the army outpost built in the 1840’s to stop an invasion of Baltimore harbor. U.S. Army Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee (yes, that Robert E. Lee) had high hopes for the fort when he oversaw much of its construction. But Fort Carroll never saw action and was never even completed, thanks to several twists of fate. Now, the Fort seems to have found a noble, albeit unusual, occupation: it’s become home to a world-class colonial nesting bird rookery, the most diverse colony of species within 100 miles. There is a problem, though: the trees that make up the rookery’s nesting cradles may be threatening Fort Carroll’s structural integrity. But, the offending trees can’t be cut, because state and federal laws protect the rookery. The quandary: save the fort, or keep the birds?