Fort Stanton Park is nestled amid the Ward 8 neighborhoods of Anacostia, Skyland, Fort Stanton and Woodland. The park was created in 1926 to preserve the hilltops where the Union army constructed Fort Stanton and Battery Rickets to defend the Nation’s Capital during the Civil War. Fort Stanton was named after then-Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Battery Rickets for Captain James B. Ricketts, an artillery officer. These forts had a combined garrison of more than 500 men, but they never saw battle. They did attract African American escaping slavery in Maryland and seeking protection and employment with the Union Army. They were abandoned at war’s end in 1865 and returned to nature. The remains earthworks and ditches can still be seen the woods.
Fort Stanton Park is also home to a recreation center, an urban farm, a reservoir for DC Water, and the Fort Circle Hiker-Biker Trail, one of only two designated hiking trails in Ward 8. It’s more than 150 acres of woods include deeply cut stream valleys, stands of towering poplar trees, and several small rock outcroppings.
Sadly, years of littering and dumping have polluted the landscape. Invasive plant such as kudzu, bittersweet, Asian wisteria, and Japanese knotweed have destroyed whole areas of forest and threaten others. Action must be taken to save this special place before it is too late.