Our first stop was at Main Beach, a public beach and park.
We went for a long walk on the beach with our sweet doggie, Sadie. Being in this part of the country again made us reminisce about when we began our RV retirement lifestyle in 2013 (with our first month-long stay in St. Augustine, FL).
Fort Clinch State Park is a short distance from Main Beach. There are hiking/ bicycling trails, beaches, swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and campgrounds (electricity and water hookup only for RVs) and some primitive campsites as well. But the main attraction here is the Civil War-era fort built by Union soldiers.
There is a $6/daily parking fee at the park and an additional $2/person admission fee to Fort Clinch. It is paid at the Visitor Center and access to the fort is through the it.
The fort is named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch who was a prominent military leader during the Second Seminole War. The fort is located at the mouth of St. Mary's River to protect the port of Fernandina. Construction began in 1847 and although it was never fully completed, it served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II.
The inland side of the fort is protected by a moat and drawbridge as you enter through the Sally Port. It is on a peninsula with St. Mary's River, Cumberland Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other three sides. Below is a picture from the fort looking out to the Cumberland Sound.
Shaped like an irregular pentagon, the fort has five tower bastions and is built stone and masonry. Designed to accommodate 500 soldiers and 78 pieces of artillery, it was only two thirds complete by 1860. Nonetheless it was occupied by the Confederate Army until 1862 when Union warships and troops arrived and established control of Fort Clinch.
The building first seen when entering the parade ground (center area of the fort), is the large Storehouse where the quartermaster dispensed supplies, clothing, etc., to the troops.
The Prison had a large room for guards (including bunks) and cells on either side.
The Enlisted Men's Barracks is the largest building in the fort. The Officers' Quarters were never finished. The last photo below is the latrine.
Behind the barracks were the Bakery and Blacksmith Shop.
There are five bastions at the fort and we explored the Northwest Bastion.
After climbing the interior, circular, brick staircase we were rewarded with this view of the Cumberland Sound. Also, the artillery can be seen along the top walls of the fort.
Below is the laundry/kitchen areas as well as an indoor outhouse!
We spent more time exploring the fort and then returned through the Visitor Center to the courtyard where the small Museum is located.
Fort Clinch is an example of a Third System Fortification and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Army, Navy, and Coast Guard personnel served at the fort between 1847 to 1945. We found the information displayed in the Museum very interesting for gaining insight into the lives of those who served here. Reenactments of life on the fort are held the first weekend of every month.
Before leaving the park, we hiked the Willow Pond Nature Trail. Coastal depression ponds can be seen along this trail where there are abundant plans and animals. Alligator warnings are everywhere, but we did not see one. Honestly, it's a little scary here in this dense "jungle."
Our doggy, Sadie, enjoyed the chance to experience all of the new smells along this trail! We kept a close eye out for her though because we didn't want her injured by an alligator or a snake! Also shown below is a turtle we spotted in the water.
Our final stop in the park was to see the Fishing Pier that is positioned between Cumberland Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. There is a boardwalk (no dogs allowed) that leads to the pier and beach.
The pier is huge, but unfortunately was damaged by recent Hurricane Mathew and is closed to the public until a safety assessment and repairs have been completed.
We really enjoyed touring Fort Clinch and the other parts of this unique park. It is definitely worth your time to check it out if you are in the area. We brought a picnic lunch and had fun seeing everything at a leisurely pace.
For additional information about the park, go to their website at www.floridastateparks.org.