I just got back from a quick trip to Fort Clinch State Park with my friend Katie. One of the oldest of Florida’s state parks, it’s the home of Fort Clinch, a brick and mortar fort primarily used during the American Civil War. While the fort never saw any fighting, it has an interesting story to tell, one that park rangers and volunteers tell well.
Katie and I visited to get some interesting photos and soak up the atmosphere. As you can see, I’m showing photos from several visits. All these photos are mine, but I hope Katie will share some of her own in the near future!
The fort sits on the inlet of the St. Marys River and looks across to Georgia. The fort was built by the United States starting in 1847, so the border between states is just a coincidence, but the area was originally fortified by the Spanish when they controlled Florida (1513-1763 and 1783-1821).
The fort is built with attractive red bricks. You can see an obvious change in the look of the bricks part of the way up the walls. This shows where new construction began when Union forces took control in 1862. The fort was never completed because rifled cannons, which started to be introduced around the time of the Civil War, made this type of fort obsolete. An interesting part of your visit can be found exploring the building materials and unfinished foundations in the grounds of the fort.
There’s many places to explore in and around the fort. It’s terrific that the fort is in such good shape, but be careful, the state has kept the fort in original condition (as restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s) so stairs don’t have railings and there’s few barriers to keep the truly clumsy safe. I prefer it like that.
When I revisit a place I try to find something new to look for. While I didn’t have a plan this time, within a few minutes I noticed something new. Katie led the way up to the top of the southeast bastion and when we were on top, I noticed that it was designed to collect water instead of have it run off. Later the gutter and downspout systems on the buildings became obvious when I looked for them which all let to revealing a rainwater collection system to feed cisterns for freshwater in a fort that might have limited access to a well. See the photos for more information on that.
All in all, it was a great start to our day. I’ll share more from the day later. There really is so much to see at Fort Clinch State Park.