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Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a great place in Key West for water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing and picnics. You can plan a wedding and all kinds of other events to take place on the grounds. You can tour the historic Civil War Fort and enjoy lunch or a snack at the Cayo Hueso Café. The rental of equipment like rafts, snorkel gear, floats, kayaks, chairs and umbrellas, is also possible.

History

Built in 1845 the Fort now covers 87 acres of land and is a National Historic Landmark. In 1850 the fort was named for President Zachary who had died in office that year. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 the fort was in Union hands. Key West was an important outpost for the Union because numerous blockade-running ships were detained at Key West harbor and guarded by Fort Taylor's cannons; this prevented the Confederate navy from attempting to take the fort or the island of Key West. This was a severe loss for the South and Ft. Taylor was in Union hands the entire length of the war. It had a total of 198 guns and a vast amount of ammunition was on hand to keep the Fort secure.

Fort Taylor Beach

The three story Fort Taylor was finally finished in 1866, 21 years after it was started. It was, however, state of the art, for the time. It had features like sanitary facilities flushed by the tide and a desalination plant that made drinking water from ocean water was functioning as early as 1861. In 1889 the top levels were cut down and newer weapons were installed, the remodel included the addition of Battery Osceola and Battery Adair inside the fort. Eventually the Fort was equipped with more modern weapons and radar. By 1947, the Army turned Fort Taylor over to the Navy to maintain.

Gun rooms filled with large amounts of guns, cannons and ammunition were discovered in 1968. This is the largest collection of Civil War cannons in the U.S. and because of this in 1971 Fort Taylor was put on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1973 it was named a National Historic Landmark

Activities

Like many Florida state parks, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park offers many activities for everyone. At the beach the water isn't too deep and is protected by a breakwater. You can enjoy some of the best snorkeling accessible from shore when the water is clear or paddle a glass bottom kayak and explore the waters of the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico. You can fish from the rock seawall for yellowtail, grunts, snapper and more. There are many nature and bike trails to enjoy, where you can bird watch and see the native plant life. The bike trails wind past the historic Fort, along the shore beside the Key West Ship Channel, through the tree covered picnic area, and beside the beach. Be sure to take a tour of Historic Fort Zachary Taylor, where you can see Civil War era cannons and construction. You can even have a picnic, with grills provided, or eat at the Cay Hueso Cafe.

Fort Taylor Gun

Events At The Park

You can have your wedding, commitment ceremony or other special event at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. There are 4 beautiful sites by the beach you can reserve and have a picture perfect day; because of the year- round tropical weather Key West is the perfect place to have an outdoor wedding or event. There is plenty of parking available and you can contact an on-site event planner to help make arrangements including catering, equipment rental, and other services. Photos courtousy of Florida State Parks.






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