Exploring Fort Pickens

We spent some time exploring Fort Pickens and some of the batteries that are located within the National Seashore.

Fort Pickens was the largest of four forts built in the 1800’s by the United States Government to protect Pensacola Bay and the Naval Yard. Although it never had to be used against foreign enemies, it was used by the Union Army during the Civil War to protect against the Confederates. Ranger led tours are available but we chose to go on a self-guided tour of the huge fort.

Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens
Entering Fort Pickens
Entering Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens
Fort Pickens

Much of the fort is built using arches.

Arches at Fort Pickens
Arches at Fort Pickens
Arches at Fort Pickens
Arches at Fort Pickens
Arches at Fort Pickens
Arches at Fort Pickens
Double Arch
Double Arch
Another view of the arches at Fort Pickens
Another view of the arches at Fort Pickens

Civil War era cannons and a mortar are also on display at the fort.

With clear views of Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Pickens was in a great location to protect the area.

There are several batteries located throughout the area. Some were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Endicott Batteries from the 1890's
Endicott Batteries from the 1890’s

We explored Battery Worth where huge gun pits held twelve inch mortars that could launch 700 pound projectiles 7 to 9 miles away. After World War I all but four of the mortars were scrapped. In 1942 the battery became part of the Army-Navy Harbor Defense Command Post for the Pensacola area during World War II.

Battery Worth
Battery Worth
Looking down from Battery Worth
Looking down from Battery Worth
On top of Battery Worth
On top of Battery Worth

There were big guns lining the shoreline ready to protect against enemy ships.

Next up: aircraft and a lighthouse.

30 thoughts on “Exploring Fort Pickens”

  1. I always find it fascinating and humbling to visit these historic sites. To think that they built these structures with none of the modern materials or tools and they are still standing and providing a link to another time. I think it would be fair to say those folks were true craftsmen. 🙂

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    1. Judy, you are so right. One of the more modern batteries that was built with concrete is closed off to the public because some of it is crumbling and the rebar is rusting while the hand built brick and mortar is still standing and safe to walk around on. We’ve been to a couple of other civil war forts with similar architecture but this was the biggest. So glad it is being protected for future generations to see.

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  2. Definitely a place to visit! My daughters and I went to Old Fort Jackson in 2009. Fort Perkins looks even more amazing. Thanks for the tour.

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  3. We always enjoy American history and historical places. But there is something sacred about these old forts. We’ve been to a few. These were great pics! And it is incredible to imagine the craftsmanship!

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  4. At least you didn’t get evacuated out like we did! We’re going to have to re-visit some time other than December!
    The amount of hand labor there and the use of skilled labor slaves really struck me while we were there. That’s a LOT of bricks! An Awful Lot of Bricks!

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    1. Peter, they evacuated the campground the day we were leaving anyway. The road was already covered in water in a couple of places when we left. It’s amazing to think of the amount of labor it took to build the fort and see it still standing today!

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    1. As we walked around Fort Pickens I kept thinking of how much it reminded me of Fort Pulaski. The thick walls, the arches, and the cannon placements were similar. Fort Pickens was much larger. I don’t know about the designers. I know that Robert E. Lee was involved in the construction of Fort Pulaski and the same design was used at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Torguas. I never saw his name mentioned at Fort Pickens. I’ll have to do some research when I have a better internet connection. I also knew that slaves built Fort Pickens. Their brick work was just amazing.

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      1. I looked it up and General Simon Bernard, the French engineer, designed Pulaski and Pickens. No wonder they look so similar. The American engineer who designed Fort Jefferson worked with and was heavily influenced by Bernard (apparently there was some outrage when a Frenchman was chosen to design American forts so Bernard was not in charge of Jefferson). I’m not sure about defensive effectiveness, but he sure had an eye for beauty.

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        1. Thanks for the research. When Fort Pulaski was built the guns at the time couldn’t penetrate it. It wasn’t strong enough to defend against the Union troops new more powerful guns, though.

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  5. So old and still standing! And you, my dear, gave me something to think about when we go to visit. Sweet, sweet man would love this! Great pictures and great research!

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  6. I lived in Pensacola when I was a kid. I vaguely remember the batteries (seems like there were a bunch) and I remember going to the beach near Ft. Pickens. My brother always called it “Fort Pickens my nose” which always got a laugh out of me. Can’t wait to see these sights again one day. Thanks for bringing back some pleasant memories.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! We’ve visited some of the other forts and Fort Pickens is the biggest we’ve seen. If you don’t camp there are plenty of hotels and vacation homes along the Gulf Coast. Lots of fun things to do around Pensacola.

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  7. Well, it’s closer than I thought, don’t know how I missed that, so that trip looks doable. I love seeing all the trips you go on. I hope to do more trips after I retire this year.

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