Fort Zachary Taylor

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by jaybroek on July 11, 2003

The Fort is found within an historic State Park which is itself inside a military base of the same name on the western end of Key West. For $5/day (less on foot or cycle) you can take your car out to the Park which consists of the beach, a stretch of pine woodland and the Fort itself.

The Fort was built in the mid-19th century to guard the Florida coastways from expected trouble from the English. If the English had been a bit sharper they could've had an easy route in because the fort took a good twenty years to build - progress being slow because of inconsiderate builders dying of Yellow Fever and the like. The final construction was then manned through various conflicts including the Civil War (to my surprise it was a Union stronghold), WWI, WWII, and the Cuban Missile Crisis before becoming more than a little bit obsolete.

The Fort that remains consists of an hexagonal arrangement of batteries from different periods of the Fort's past and some of the supporting buildings. You won't get a great deal out of the place unless you take the guided tour (noon and 2pm) - the displays are quite poor and lack explanation.

As with all guided tours I've been on in the States, the quality was excellent. The guide clearly loved the place and brought to life the desolate nature of the post and the lives of the men stationed there. Picture the communal toilet with the 'revolutionary' tide flushing system and too low a tide!! The guide also draws attention to the high quality vaulted ceilings in the older of the batteries and waxes lyrical on the many types of cannon that have served the Fort . . . none of which were ever fired in anger.

If you need a break from the beach and don't have too high expectations of this little known Fort then you may have a diverting hour or so here. The Blonde opted out.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
601 Howard England Way
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 292-6713

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