Protecting the Capitol - Atlas Obscura
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Washington, D.C., United States

Protecting the Capitol

From legendary stones to a hidden fort, join us as we discover what protected the Capitol.

Deep inside of Rock Creek Park lie two Washington D.C. legends.

Since the British burned down the U.S. Capitol in 1814, the home of our lawmakers has been subjected to major alterations. In the 1950s, during one particular renovation, a number of the original stone blocks, some dating back to the early 19th century, were stored in Rock Creek Park. This history has been hidden from the public eye—until now.

Join architecture historian and photographer Bill Lebovich on a half-mile jaunt to find these legendary stones. He will provide us the stories, history, and legend behind the Capitol Stones.

After this journey, we will be joined by Atlas Obscura's CEO David Plotz to help us discover Fort DeRussy, conveniently located just across aptly named Military Road. During the Civil War, Washington D.C. was the most heavily defended city on the planet, with Confederate armies menacing the capital from every direction. Early on in the war, the Union Army ringed the city with a series of earthen defense forts. Most of these forts have disappeared, leaving nothing but their names across the region (Fort Totten Metro, Fort Dupont Park, Battery Kemble), but two of them still stand, including the mysterious and nearly-swallowed-by-the-forest Fort DeRussy. 


  • Please park in the parking lot and meet at the small grassy area in the middle. 
  • This tour will require up to a mile of walking on a wooded path. Please wear comfortable shoes and bring water.
  • While the site is technically not off-limits, we ask all attendees to use discretion, caution, and respect while attending this event.
  • The ticket price includes a donation to the National Park Service Foundation
  • There will be a brief five-minute bathroom/water break between the tours.


Email Elliot Carter at 

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.