At 409 feet above sea level, this site is the highest point in Washington, D.C. It is no coincidence that in 1861, the Union army designed one the largest and most heavily armed Civil War fortifications at this location.
Originally named "Fort Pennsylvania," and renamed after Major General Jesse L. Reno, this site was the epicenter of the Union's northern defenses of Washington, D.C. With a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, Fort Reno presided over three major roads that converged at
Tenleytown: River Road, Rockville Road (today Wisconsin Avenue NW), and Brookville Road today Belt Road NW). Together with an attached artillery battery (Battery Reno), the fort's grounds stretched over 70 acres, including barracks, camps, and a parade ground.
During the July 1864 Confederate raid on Washington, D.C., Fort Reno's signal tower was the first to observe the advancing troops. The fort's 100-pounder Parrott rifle fired rounds 3.5 miles north, killing Confederate soldiers near present-day Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. After the war, the army abandoned Fort Reno. By the late 1800s, most traces of the fortifications were gone, making way for the creation of several reservoirs and later, residential development in the north. To the south and west of the fort, African Americans, including those who had helped construct Fort Reno and found refuge under its protection during the war, were joined by working class white residents to create Reno City. The distinct but segregated neighborhood was demolished
for the creation of Fort Reno Park.
The benchmark was placed by the Washington, D.C. Surveyors Association after surveying and establishing the highest natural ground of the District in 2007. The wayside and the benchmark for the highpoint were made possible by the donations of the Highpointers Foundation in cooperation with the Highpointers Club.
Following the dedication ceremony in April 2008, the highpoint officially became known as Point Reno. The higher land behind the fenced area is man-made and, therefore, not the highest natural point.
The natural highpoint is marked with a nearby benchmark. Can you find it?
Please visit the Ft. Reno home page on the Rock Creek Park website https//www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm to learn more about the Foundation's education, support and conservation of the highest natural point in each of the 50 United States and Washington, D.C.