This video approaches and then transitions to a panoramic view from the summit of the highest point of elevation in the District of Columbia. But that’s getting a little ahead of the story. Let me explain how I found myself here recently.
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Here is "Point Reno" in Fort Reno Park, 38° 57′ 06.67097″ N, 77° 04′ 33.99550 W, and 409.02 feet in elevation. It was determined to be the Washington, DC highpoint and dedicated as such on April 19, 2008. The experts once believed that the highpoint was a few hundred yards away on the grounds of a water tower and pumping station. Upon further assessment this was disallowed because it had been built-up artificially. Apparently that makes a difference in highpoint recognition. I had an opportunity to comment on this situation at that time in case you would like to know a little more.
Anyone who visited the DC highpoint prior to April 19, 2008 has to go back. Alright then, I’ll go back and place a check mark in that box.
I think it’s safe to assume that Point Reno is the only secondary level of government highpoint in the United States that can be approached by subway. Sure, the District isn’t a State but it’s often considered an equivalent for statistical purpose. Many highpointers would consider this a pseudo-state or a state with an asterisk as they compile and complete their summit lists.
Getting there is simple. As I’ve noted in previous entries, I like highpoints that are easily approachable such as the one in Delaware and the one in Wisconsin. I used the Tenleytown-American University subway station on the Metro’s Red Line. It contains the largest "hill" that needs to be climbed on this trek, assuming one doesn’t let the escalator do all the work. I took this photo looking back down into the abyss after making it to the top. And for the record, I may be lazy but I’m not pathetic. I did climb it.
I took the left tunnel up to the surface, came to ground level and walked straight out and past the side of the Whole Foods. From there I turned left on Fort Street and headed uphill in the direction of the water tower. I arrived at the summit about ten minutes later. That’s all it took. I noticed plenty of street parking available too but I’m not sure if that’s a regular thing or because it was 9 a.m. on a Saturday.
Here is the water tower once considered to mark the highpoint. For Reno actually used to be a fort, but this was not part of it. I know it looks like it should be found on some ancient defensive structure but in reality it dates only to the 1920’s. It’s fake.
The capital city of the United States sat precariously close to enemy territory during the Civil War. Military strategists considered it vulnerable to Confederate attacks. The army built a series of defensive forts around the entire city perimeter including Fort Reno, which it hastily threw together in 1861. It played a minor role in the only Civil War battle fought within the boundaries of the District of Columbia when Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early attacked nearby Fort Stevens and was repulsed in 1864. Little of historic Fort Reno remains today except for its name.
I found the marker easily. I’d programmed the longitude/latitude coordinates into my hand-held GPS before leaving on my expedition, not that I actually needed it. Just look for the big tree standing by itself and walk about twenty paces due north. Trust me, you’ll now exactly what I mean when you see it.
The GPS says that I’m 16.7 feet away from target which is within its margin of error. The marker is a bit difficult to read in this image so let me transcribe it:
National Park Service
in Cooperation with the D. C. Association of Land Surveyors
and the Highpointer Club
Elev. 409 ft.
Highest Natural Elevation
I do have some concerns with the marker. It looks as if some of the characters are showing signs of wear, which seems odd for something that has been in the ground for barely a year.
Here was my reward for climbing to the summit. No, it’s not Denali but the summit is more dramatic than, oh I don’t know, maybe the Delaware highpoint?
Another highpoint conquered.