Monday, June 15, 2009
Fort Pickens Once Again Accessible by Car
Historic Fort Pickens near Pensacola can once again be visited by automobile. The access road to the old fort is once again open to traffic.
The road was destroyed during Hurricane Ivan several years ago and further damaged during Hurricane Dennis a year later. It has taken the National Park Service years to work through the red tape, environmental, funding and other issues, but the access road finally reopened in late May.
Built during the antebellum era, Fort Pickens played a critical role during the Civil War. Like Fort Sumter, the massive brick fortress was held by the Union throughout the war, even though Confederate troops occupied nearby Fort Barrancas, Fort McRee and the Advanced Redoubt. Two fierce bombardments took place between Confederate and Union forces in 1861 and 1862 and the outer camps of Fort Pickens were the target of a major Southern attack during the Battle of Santa Rosa Island.
In later years the fort served as a prison for the famed Apache leader Geronimo and it remained a vital U.S. military installation until after World War II. Now part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, the fort is maintained by the National Park Service.
Fort Pickens is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset and ranger tours are given each afternoon at 2 p.m. The visitor center at the fort is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. The entry fee to visit the fort and the Fort Pickens section of the national seashore is $8, which allows access for a full week.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortpickens1.