Monday, August 3, 2009

Fort De Soto Park - Mullet Key, Florida

A trip to one of the best preserved artillery batteries of the Spanish-American War era can be combined with a visit to one of America's finest beaches!

Historic Fort De Soto stands on Mullet Key, easily accessible by car from nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. Now a park operated by Pinellas County, the key preserves the old fort which was begun in 1898 to defend Tampa Bay against the risk of a Spanish naval attack. Some of the artillery to be seen there is among the rarest in the world.

The 12-inch rifled mortars in the concrete and shell battery, for example, are the only examples of their type in the continental United States. Also on display are two 6-inch Armstrong rapid fire guns rescued from Fort Dade, a crumbling sister work on nearby Egmont Key. They are the last two guns of their type in the country.

The fort was a key U.S. Army base until 1923 when it was evacuated for good. Rescued from neglect in 1948 when Pinellas County purchased Mullet Key from the U.S. Government, Fort De Soto is now beautifully preserved and is the focal point of an outstanding park that also features magnificent beaches, camping, picnicking, boat launches and nature trails.

The beaches of Fort De Soto, in fact, were named the best in America in 2005 and are definitely quite spectacular.

To learn more about historic Fort De Soto, please visit

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