Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fort Pickens And Beautiful White Sand Beaches

Fort Pickens
One of the lessons our country learned during the War of 1812 was that our key naval ports were not well defended. So the US government started a campaign to build forts to protect vital ports. Thus Fort Pickens was built on Santa Rosa Island to protect the important Naval Ship Yard in Pensacola, Florida. It was constructed from 1824 to 1834 and was one of three forts that were built for this defense.

Fort Pickens went through periods of time when it was totally abandoned. It was typically occupied and used when the county was in a war. During the Civil War, Union soldiers got to it first so they utilized it against Confederate forces. Later in the war, the 25th Regiment that was made up of freed slaves guarded Confederate soldiers at this fort – justice, as this fort was built by slaves.

After the Civil War (1865), the fort was abandoned again until 1886. This was when Chief Geronimo an Apache Indian along with 15 of his warriors were captured in Arizona and imprisoned at Fort Pickens. Tourist began to visit the fort to see Chief Geronimo. A year later the Chief was relocated to Oklahoma where he died.

Fort Pickens remained in use until 1947. During WWI and WWII many changes were made to the fort including adding additional weapon batteries as well as replacing old cannons with modern capabilities. After WWII the fort became abandoned once again. The fort became a Florida State Park and in 1971 was included with the Gulf Island National Seashore under the National Park Service.
 Beautiful Beaches 
Santa Rosa Island is covered with beautiful white sandy beaches. This sand drifts across the small two lane road like a snow storm. The beaches on the gulf side of the island are larger and the water is more aqua blue than the bay side. It's a beautiful place to  enjoy both a sunrise and sunset from the same beach. If you are in the area, it's definitely worth a stop.

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