Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Road Access restored to historic Fort Pickens, Florida

After years of work by the National Park Service, historic Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida, can once again be reached by car.

Hurricane Ivan destroyed the only road leading down the 7 mile stretch of Santa Rosa Island to the fort and it has taken years for park service employees to work their way through a tangle of regulatory and funding issues to repair the road. It finally reopened to vehicular traffic at the end of May and can once again be used to access the historic fort.

Built during the 1830s, Fort Pickens played a vital role during the Civil War. One of three Southern forts held by Union troops throughout the war (the others were Fort Tayler and Fort Jefferson, both also in Florida), the troops in the fort participated in major artillery battles with Confederate forces on the mainland in November of 1861 and January of 1862. The outer camps of Fort Pickens were also a target of Confederate troops during the Battle of Santa Rosa Island in October of 1861.

Now part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. In addition to the historic fort, the Fort Pickens section of the national park includes concrete fortifications dating from 1898-1945, 7 miles of pristine white sand beaches, a historic cemetery, the site of the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, picnic areas, trails, campgrounds and more. The entrance fee is $8, which is good for a full week.

To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortpickens1.

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