Monday, April 6, 2009

We’re Not In Matanzas Anymore

Small Fort Matanzas was built on the Matanzas River between 1740 and 1742 as a means of protecting the big Fort San Marcos upstream in St. Augustine. It was never used in a battle but it did serve its purpose.

B and I had never visited and enjoyed going on Thursday of my spring break. The park sits on one side of the river and the fort is on Rattlesnake Island and is visited by way of the park-run ferry. It may take 10 minutes to cross and dock, but it was fun and free.

A dolphin played near the boat as we were getting ready to go, but I was not fast enough to get a picture.

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By 1899, when it was 150 years old, the elements had taken their toll and the fort was in ruins. Congress allocated funds for its repair in 1916. It has been repaired with the original materials, as well as supplemented with some new where needed.

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We were told this turret look-out served no real purpose, as the sentry’s stood on the roof-top for a superior view.

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On the lower deck were the cannon. Two were original and the others were reproductions.

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A reproduction:

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An original:

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Here is the match used to light the cannon.

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We were told these are fired about once a month. At least at one time, our older son (having been to cannon school) was certified to fire these—and any others on federal land.

Inside on the lower level were the tight living quarters of the soldiers stationed there. It was one room---with a nice river view.

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From the deck, outside steps went to the officer’s quarters on the floor above. It was only marginally more comfortable.

A ladder led from the middle of that room to the roof look-out. It was a skinny opening.

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With the heat, humidity, cold, disease and bugs, it must have been a miserable place to have duty.

But it was an interesting place to visit and well worth the time and effort.

1 comment:

wlh said...

I think This is my favorite of the forts in Florida. It must have been a challenge in the 18th century. Very nice.