Scenic USA - Florida

Fort Matanzas

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Fort Matanzas - Fort Matanzas National Monument, Crescent Beach, Florida

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography
Historic inset photo - NPS

   Coastal Florida was a major region of conflict for centuries Entrance Sign - Fort Matanzas, St Augustine, Florida as European nations fought for control of this territory of the New World. Major challengers for the area included the Spanish, French and English. As early as 1565, Spanish admiral and explorer Menendez killed more than 250 French Huguenots near St Augustine, including the Frenchmen Jean Ribault. St. Augustine, founded in 1565 by the Spanish, was the first successful city in the New World. Located with easy access from the water, protection of St. Augustine was always a problem. Thought to have been always guarded by a wooden watchtower, Fort Matanzas was built just 15 miles south of St. Augustine in 1742 to repel new attacks by the British.
   Matanzas, meaning slaughters in English, was most likely a reference to the very first battle with the French in this area. Today, Fort Matanzas National Monument protects this island fort and is open daily to the public. A passenger ferry runs every hour, ferrying park guests to the fort. Admission and ferry service is free, and introduces visitors to some of Florida's oldest history. Reconstruction Period - Fort Matanzas, St Augustine, Florida Similar to Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Matanzas Fort is built of coquina, a naturally occurring shell-stone found along Florida's east coast. The soft stone was easy to quarry and held up exceptionally well to cannon fire.
   Reenactments and demonstrations are held nearly every day during the summer months and depict life at the fort in its early years. The park grounds also offer nature trails, leading through the ancient oak forests and along the sandy riverbanks. The maritime forest, dune, coastal scrub, and salt marsh ecosystems provide food and shelter for a variety of plants and animals. Combining the history tour and nature walk can create a great day of family fun.

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