801 E. Fayette St., 410/605-2964,
HOURS: Sat.–Sun. mornings, by appt. only
COST: $5 adult, $4 child
The tall, unusual brick spire that reaches more than 234 feet into the air at the intersection of President and Fayette Streets, and dates from 1828, was an ingenious structure that was crucial to the U.S. military. It took more than one million bricks to build this tower, which is one of only a few left standing in America.
So: What’s a shot tower, you ask? Old rifles (and modern shotguns) fired not bullets but round, spherical projectiles called shot: To create shot, bright armorers realized they could drop hot lead from a great height through a special sieve and into cool water, creating nearly perfectly spherical shot.
This tower produced shot for the U.S. military through the Civil War and into the late 1800s, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972. Though the interior remains as it was back in the 19th century, the public is no longer allowed inside the tower, so it’s more of a landmark worth recognizing during your travels than a destination.