A period blacksmith shop was one of the first sights we saw at the park.
Before entering the fort, we saw this juvenile iguana on the ground and then an adult one high in a tree.
As I watched the one in the tree climb around on the branches, suddenly I heard a splash...he fell (about 15’) into the water of the moat around the fort! I do not know if that was planned or a surprise for him.
Key West was first surveyed by the Spanish in 1513. It was used as a Navy post in 1822 to fight pirates in the region. In 1845, Fort Zachary Taylor was built and was the southernmost Civil War fortress. It was part of the Third Tier System of Defense (coastal masonry forts built to prevent the US from sea attacks). This location was selected to protect the waters of the Straits of Florida and Gulf of Mexico. Originally, it was three stories high with 140 cannon and 450 soldiers.
The fort remained under federal control during the Civil War and was the headquarters for the US Navy East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron. The largest cache of Civil War armaments were found here.
The top two tiers of the fort were removed in the late 1800s, but the fort was used in the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. It was closed in 1947 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Below are some photos of the remaining structures.
As was the design of forts of the era, a moat surrounded it.
Below is the Sally Port (the only way into the fort) and prison cells were constructed o both sides. Also shown is the dining area for troops.
In addition to the fort, there are two nature hiking trails and a beautiful beach for swimming, snorkeling, and paddling. We hiked the nature trails with our sweet doggie, Sadie. Great views of the fort can be seen along the trail.
Lots of water activities in the Key West Harbor could also be seen from the trail.
Fishing is popular along the rocky coast, but a beautiful sandy beach on the south side of the park is great for swimming, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.
We enjoyed our lunch in a large shaded picnic area near the beach.
Admission to the fort is $8.50/vehicle. For additional information about the park, go to www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/fort-zachary-taylor-historic-state-park.
After leaving the park, we made a quick stop at the famous Southernmost Point in the United States (corner of Whitehead and South Streets). There were lots of people standing in line to get a picture with the large buoy. Also shown is a bronze statue (2015) that celebrates the life of Bishop Albert Kee, a preacher, businessman, and ambassador of good will. Standing at the Southernmost Point every day, he would great visitors with by blowing a conch shell (and provide information about conchs, uses of their meat, and Key West natives known a conchs).
This is a must-see site for all who visit Key West!