Old Fort Park


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the mysterious “Turnbull Ruins” are located within Old Fort Park off Riverside Drive in New Smyrna Beach. Constructed of coquina, the foundation features walls five-and-a-half feet thick. Some historians believe that the ruins may have once served as the foundation a Spanish fort that predates the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, while others claim they are simply the ruins of a mansion belonging to Scottish physician Andrew Turnbull (1718-92), who established the colony of New Smyrna in 1768.

A historical marker at the site reads: “This coquina foundation rests within a shell midden from the Timucuan Indian era. Mystery still surrounds the origin of this foundation. Jane and John Sheldon built a large hotel on this mound circa 1859. During the Civil War, the structure was destroyed by cannon fire from Union ships. After the Civil War, Jane Sheldon built a smaller structure that served as a pioneer general store, port collector’s office, boarding house and print shop, which published The Florida Star, one of the region’s early newspapers. Structural problems forced the building’s removal circa 1900.”

Old Fort Park also serves as the home of the historic New Smyrna Beach Free Library, which today houses the New Smyrna Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. In addition, the New Smyrna Museum of History can be found at 120 Sams Avenue, just one block from Old Fort Park (115 Julia Street).

Hike #14: Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West


Hike #14, 52 Hike Challenge: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. We hiked around a few of the trails for a great view of Fort Zachary Taylor, a National Historic Landmark that was named after President Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) and constructed in the mid-1850s. The fort was occupied by Union forces throughout the Civil War. Key West is not known for its great beaches, but Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is by far the best of the bunch. You can even grab an ice-cold beer at the onsite Cayo Hueso Cafe! Distance: 1.2 miles.

 

Fort East Martello Museum, Key West

Housed in a Civil War-era fort with eight-foot-thick granite walls, the Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens contains a unique collection of artifacts, including the scrap metal junk sculptures of Stanley Papio, the Key West folk art of Mario Sanchez and, perhaps most famously, Robert the Haunted Doll, which once belonged to Key West artist Robert Eugene Otto (when in doubt, “Blame it on Robert!”). Other highlights of the museum include artifacts from the Florida East Coast Railroad, sponge industry and much more.

Fort Jefferson

drytortugas

The largest all-masonry fort in the United States, Fort Jefferson (named after Thomas Jefferson) was constructed with more than 16 million bricks between 1846 and 1875 on Garden Key, which lies approximately 70 miles West of Key West. A federal outpost during the Civil War, Fort Jefferson held more than 500 prisoners by 1865 and in July of that year added Dr. Samuel Mudd, Edmund Spangler, Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlen – all of whom had been convicted in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Mudd was eventually pardoned by President Andrew Johnson after treating the victims of a yellow fever epidemic at Fort Jefferson in 1867. The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), which starred Warner Baxter and Gloria Stuart, was loosely based on the life of Mudd. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the area as Fort Jefferson National Monument and the fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Fort Jefferson lies within the 64,701-acre Dry Tortugas National Park, which is accessible only by boat or seaplane.