Fort Zachary Taylor, named for the country’s 12th president, was built between 1845 and 1866. Controlled by the Union during the Civil War, the fort was the home base for a successful blockade of Confederate ships which some historians say shortened the conflict by a full year. The fort also was active during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.
Once referred to as “Fort Forgotten,” buried under tons of sand, the structure was rediscovered and excavated thanks to a grass-roots restoration effort led by Key West resident Howard England. The centerpiece of an 87-acre state park, today the fort is a National Historic Landmark believed to hold the largest number of Civil War artifacts in the nation. It also is the site of the popular annual Civil War Days event in February whose highlights include reenactments of historic military maneuvers.
The acreage surrounding the fort includes a shaded picnic area as well as the 1,000-foot beach fronting on the Atlantic that features excellent offshore snorkeling and sunset views.
Entrance fees are $1.50 for a pedestrian or bicyclist, $2.50 for one person in a car, $5 for two people in a car and 50 cents for each additional person, up to eight people.
For more information on the Fort Taylor State Historic Site, call (305) 292-6713.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is Key West's premiere public beach. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys TDC
A family enjoys Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys TDC
Key West's Fort Zachary Taylor offers educational opportunities for visiting families especially during the fort's annual Civil War Days, the first weekend in March, when Union soldier reenactors parade in period uniforms. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys TDC