Fort Pickens was the largest of four forts designed to protect the Pensacola Harbor and navy yard and was built in 1829-1834. Located at the western tip of Santa Rosa Island, just offshore from the mainland, Fort Pickens guarded the island and the entrance to the Pensacola harbor.
We lucked out and joined a tour of the fort offered once a day and lead by a park ranger who knew his history. Of particular interest to me were the 32 pound cannon batteries that defended the harbor. These old cannons could fire their 32 pound projectiles 8 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Hitting there target was another thing…
There’s a great history here with Fort Pickens being one of three government forts or outposts located in the south that were never occupied by Confederate forces, although they tried. Long before the Civil War the Spanish, French and English all tried to claim Pensacola and the surrounding area for their governments and were forced to leave by either military force or threat of force.
There is also a wild life preserve and a camping site here large enough to accommodate RVs with water and power. Both are part of the National Parks’ system. Oh, and did I mention sand? Lot’s of sand . . .
We enjoyed the tour, and as a bonus, it didn’t rain all day.