Trails Through History: The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail     


By Carla Charter

BALTIMORE, MD.- History teaches us that during the War of 1812, the British bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner after seeing the fort’s American flag, sewn by Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore, flying proudly after the bombardment ended.

Since 2009, visitors have been able to view the sites associated with the history of this famous anthem by visiting the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.  The trail is 560 miles long with sites on both water and land, winding their way through Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“The trail is important because it highlights an important part of American History that many Americans do not know a lot about,” said Abbi Wicklein-Bayne, Chief of Interpretation at the Star- Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.

The trail also highlights the Chesapeake Campaign, which occurred in the summer of 1814, as part of the war of 1812. The Chesapeake Campaign included not only the Battle of Baltimore but also an assault on Washington, marking the only time in American History when the nation’s capitol, was invaded by a foreign power.

The trail has many sites to visit along the way including the towns which were raided and burned by the British, battle sites, museums and forts, including Fort McHenry, the trail’s visitor and orientation center. The Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River, is a site where during the spring and summer, the Coast Guard places a red, white and blue buoy at the spot where Key’s ship was anchored when he wrote the Star-Spangled banner.  At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is the actual flag from Fort McHenry which inspired Key’s anthem.

More information on the Star-Spangled Banner National Historical Trail can be found at