08 Aug Ghost Hunting at Fort Hunt
Okay, so maybe ghost hunting is a little adventurous. Nevertheless, I did find myself back at Fort Hunt a couple of times last week checking the site out and learning more about the history. Fort Hunt has been a round for a long time: it was part of Washington’s estate, and later was used during the Spanish War, and most recently, it was integral in operations during World War II. The fort was originally called Sheriden’s Point during Spanish War. This was when the battery was built to stave off incoming boats, but no boats came.Later on it would become a camp for the newly minted Civilian Conservation Corps. A large group of veterans conducted a march to Fort Hunt to demand the bonus they were promised after their service. The second march, which happened while FDR was president is what gave birth to the CCC. After the CCC was founded, the tents and housing set up during the march was then used to house those same CCC members. During World War II, Fort Hunt was used for many different things, and I can share them here since everything has just been declassified. Fort Hunt was used for three different missions by the United States. For the fist two, Fort Hunt became known as PO Box 1142. Within that scope came MIS-X and MIS-Y. MIS-X was an operation where military intelligence created various tools to help American POWs escape from their prisons in Europe. Obviously escape tools could not be sent directly so some of the artifacts I have been able to work with are pipes with antennae inside, playing cards with escape maps on one side, and radios with communication devices on the inside. We also have pictures of baseballs with radio transmitters inside and razors calibrated to point north when hung a certain way. MIS-Y was the second part of PO Box 1142. While some people at Fort Hunt were working to help American POWs escape, others were interrogating the German POWs they had at the same site. From traditional interrogation techniques to speakers hidden in prisoner barracks, trained specialists did what they could to gather information. The last part of Fort Hunt’s history in WWII came under the name Operation Paperclip. For this, many of the German POWs were kept long after VE Day in the hopes of using their knowledge against the USSR which we had entered into a Cold War with. I don;t know a lot about Operation Paperclip yet, but it is something I am helping with since Fort Hunt is a GWMP site and their Friends group is actively working with us to get some sort of display or visitor’s center up and working. As of now, there are only a few waysides on display near the old batteries. Other than that, Fort Hunt is primarily used as recreation. Unfortunately, there are no ghosts to be found at Fort Hunt. As far as WWII, only one person died and it may or may not have been a suicide. He was killed trying to escape after being told he would be handed over the British who were a lot more ruthless. Rather than be at the mercy of the British, he attempted to escape and that was when he was shot and killed. What there is, is an abundance of graffiti on the walls and garbage in the rooms which show just how important NPS efforts to improve the historical part of the park are.