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Florida Guide > State Parks

FORT ZACHARY

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is situated in Truman Annex, Key West. South Florida. Here you will find the biggest haul of cannons in the whole of America.

This fort was named in honour of President Zachary Taylor: he died in the year that the fort started its construction (1845) However, it was a long time in building, due to various factors including disease, hurricane and problems with the supply of materials; in fact it would be 21 years before all 3 storeys were completed.

During the Civil War it was commandeered by the Union army. The whole of Key West had a vital role to play in the hostilities due to their defensive position in Florida. They were able to intercept blockade running vessels from their vantage point and detain the confederates.

The cannons had a 3 mile range and prevented the enemy from seizing Key West and the fort throughout the hostilities.

Fort Taylor was only finally finished in 1866; apart from its defence properties, there were flushing loos on board ( powered by the tides ) and they made the sea water drinkable by de-salination.

You will not be surprised to learn that the forts defences were used once again in the American / Spanish skirmishes. They did much to upgrade it, including putting in Battery Adair and Battery Osceola.

The navy took it over in the nineteen forties and in 1968 a programme of excavation started which unearthed an arsenal of ammunition and guns.

The fort tours take place every day at 12. p. m. and 1 p. m. There is also an interpretive display. Once you have explored the fort, you should go down to the beach; this is to the south of the park. You can hire snorkelling equipment or a kayak (phone 305 295 0037) If you go snorkelling, you can be sure of a visual feast of marine animals and coral.

Showers, loos and a picnic area are provided or there is a snack bar on the beach. Fishing is good here and the waters are over 30 feet deep. Try to stay on for the sunsets; the position this park occupies makes for the most ravishing sun sets you are likely to ever see.

There are several near by parks to visit if you have time; Bahia Honda, Long Key and Curvey Hammock are all within an easy distance.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
P. O. Box 6560
Key West, Florida 33041

Phone: 305-292-6713

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Page added on: 24 January 2008
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