About 15 minutes from Savannah on your way to Tybee Island sits Ft. Pulaski. It is located on Cockspur Island, which was once a strategic area near the mouth of the Savannah River. It was built between 1829 and 1847 to defend Savannah from foreign attacks and invasions. Early in the Civil War, Georgian troops seized the fortress.
Between April 11 and 12, 1862, Union (i.e. Yankee) forces deployed artillery onto Tybee Island. Only 30 hours later, the 7.5-foot-thick walls were breached, and Confederate (Southern) forces surrendered.
Today the fort is under the protection of the National Park Service and is open to visitors. From the parking area, you walk to the moat area and enter the fort. You can still see large areas of the fort where it was shot by cannon fire. There are tours around the fort, or you can tour at your leisure. There is not much in the way of any displays. On the lower level, there are a number of rooms open, including soldier barracks, officer rooms, and stables. You can walk around the second level, where a number of cannons can still be found intact. From here, you get an amazing view of the river. Kids of all ages will love this, and what a perfect way to teach your child a history lesson. Some of the rooms are still musty-smelling, in case you’re like me and suffer from allergies. One the grounds, take some time to just sit and reflect on the history of this place for a while. It is a must-stop for the history buff.
The area surrounding the fort is a nature lover’s paradise. They offer bike trials, bird-watching, fishing, and hiking. Wildlife abounds in the trees and marshes surrounding the fort. Visitors may spot white-tailed deer, any number of migrating birds, and maybe even an alligator. Just off the fort sits Cockspur Island, home to the tiny Cockspur Island Lighthouse, which is open to the public, if you can get there. You can go to my Low Country Lighthouses journal for more information.
There is a visitor’s center before you get to the fort. Here they have an interpretive museum and information on the fort and its history. They do have restrooms on the premises. There are picnic areas on the ground. The lower portion of the fort is wheelchair-accessible. Pets are permitted on a leash. They do have an audiocassette on the history of the fort for the handicapped. They offer brochures on the fort in German, Polish, Japanese, French, and Spanish.
This is an absolute must for any visit to Savannah or Tybee Island. Nature lovers and history lovers will be in heaven. Afterwards, make sure to visit the lovely island of Tybee, only 15 minutes away. For more information on the fort, visit www.nps.gov/fopu.