Baltimore Phoenix Shot Tower
First built in 1828, the Phoenix Shot Tower in Baltimore is a historic structure that was once used to mold 'drop shots' (shotgun pellets), a Baltimore City landmark now open for tours seasonally (each May through November).
This brick tower was designed by architect Jacob Wolfe and sits near Downtown and Little Italy in Baltimore. When it was first built it was the tallest structure in the United States, sitting at 234.25 feet. The tower is made of 11 million bricks and was saved from demolition in 1921. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is now managed by Carroll Museums. The cornerstone of this drop-shot building was laid by Charles Carroll, the richest man in America at the time.
While this shot tower is one of only a few left in the world, they were the most common production method for gunshot pellets from the 18th century to the 1960s. The process involved molding shots by pouring molten lead through colanders down into the open shaft of a high tower. This idea came from William Watts, who discovered that as lead is spun and cooled, it became 'perfectly globular in form and smooth'. The drops were collected in a large barrel at the base and then sorted by size. This tower saw a production total of about 2.5 million pounds annually!
The drop shot created was used for small game hunting mostly, something you can learn more about during your group's visit to the tower. You will also be able to explore exhibits that include a sound and light show, a video on the production methods, shot technology panels, imagery of the tower in print, and more.