6 Apr 2009 – The 2009 CDSG Conference in Baltimore finished yesterday after five days of intensive visits to historic coastal defense facilities of Baltimore and Washington D.C. We also visited the Army Proving Ground at Aberdeen, the Navy counterpart at Dahlgren and the Washington Navy Yard. These facilities all have links to the coastal defense.
The annual CDSG Conference is more like a marathon than a traditional conference, the days are filled with onsite visits and the evenings with presentations. The tally for the 2009 conference was eight forts and three support facilities. The forts visited were Fort Smallwood, Fort Carroll, Fort Armistead, Fort Washington, Fort McHenry, Fort Hunt, Fort Foote and Fort Howard. My visit pictures will be up over the next week on the specific pages on FortWiki.com.
Only the trip to Fort Carroll was problematic because it required several boat trips and the weather did not cooperate. The weather was great for the last three days. The high points of the conference for me were Fort Washington, Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Navy facility at Dahlgren Virginia.
Aberdeen was a great place to start the event because it has in place a mounted 16″ naval gun like those in many of the 100 series WWII batteries. It also has mounted railway guns, these are are difficult see anywhere else. Aberdeen also has a field full of all kinds of armor and an excellent museum. We were treated to a tour of the restoration shops with active projects underway.
Fort Washington is totally impressive. The old Third System fort is the center piece but it is surrounded by Endicott Period batteries and a few buildings from that period. Battery Humphreys is being used for auxiliary storage. Some local CDSG members and other volunteers cleaned out Battery Emory and Battery Many in preparation for the conference and they looked much improved. The Park Service opened up the locked batteries for us and we were able see most everything
The Dahlgren visit was our final excursion and it was a jaw dropper. It started with a visit to the Dahlgren 16″ Gun which was very impressive in it’s proof carriage. We then moved toward the main gun line where we first got a view of the 12 inch railway gun shown here.
The main gun line itself was a row of guns, old and new, on their proof carriages, seemingly ready to fire at a moments notice.
As we moved back from the main gun line we came to a storage area for gun tubes that seemed to contain hundreds of tubes of every imaginable size including an 18 incher.
We next moved to the Dahlgren boneyard where there was an impressive array of discarded armament including one 24 inch smooth bore gun. We ended the tour at the main gate where a large piece of armor plate has a very large shell embedded in it.
The folks at Dahlgren gave us a great tour and really went out of their way to show us all of the good stuff.
The conference was a great success due to the hard work of a lot of CDSG members. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned but this was as smooth an operation as anyone could expect. Hats off to everyone involved. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone but next year when it comes to Puget Sound I will be in better shape!
This post was written by JohnStanton on April 7, 2009