Ted began volunteering last week at the Fort Matanzas Visitors Center, so it seemed like a good idea last weekend to take the ferry over to actually SEE the fort he’d be helping folks visit! Does it seem funny/strange/coincidental to anyone but us that we’ve settled into a new home in Florida where we have to take a ferry trip across a body of water in order to visit a historic fort? We find the irony of that just priceless! Although Fort Matanzas (and its Visitors Center) is much smaller than Fort Mackinac – and the ferries are much smaller than even the smallest Shepler, Star, or Arnold Ferry – it’s still pure history, and Ted LOVES his history!
Each ferry holds 36 people and right now it runs every hour on the half-hour. If there are more than 36 waiting to go across for each trip, they simply take the first load over, then come back for the leftovers! When things pick up during the summer I’m sure they put that other boat in the water and do pretty much constant ferrying back and forth.
It’s only a five-minute trip across the Matanzas Inlet to the fort . . .
. . . and a park ranger accompanies each boat to answer questions and give a brief history.
The fort is 50 feet on each side with a 30-foot tower and is built of coquina, a local shellstone.
Fort Matanzas was built to protect the southern approach to St. Augustine, which was held by the Spanish from 1565 until 1819 (except for the years 1763-1784, when it was under British rule).
Spain had good reason to fear an attack at St. Augustine. In 1740 Gov. James Oglethorpe blockaded St. Augustine inlet with troops from the British colony of Georgia and began a 39-day siege of the town. A few Spanish vessels managed to break the siege by evading the blockade and were able to resupply the town. With the onset of hurricane season, Oglethorpe gave up the attack and returned to Georgia. If the British had maintained control of the Matanzas Inlet, St. Augustine could have been starved into surrender. With the fort near completion in 1742, Oglethorpe returned to the inlet with 12 ships, but the fort’s cannon drove off his scouting boats and the warships left.
Soldiers were rotated from St. Augustine for one-month duty tours at the fort – usually an officer-in-charge, four infantrymen, and two gunners. The officer-in-charge got a private, vaulted room, and everyone else bunked here.
After thwarting British attempts to gain the inlet in 1742, the fort never again fired its guns in battle. From that point on the fort served as a rest stop, coast guard station, and a place where vessels heading for St. Augustine could get advice on navigating the river. In 1819 Spain transferred Florida to the U.S., and by that time the fort was so badly deteriorated its soldiers could no longer live inside. The U.S. took possession of the fort in 1821 but never occupied the fort.
Blake – looking across Matanzas Inlet.
Occasionally the photographer gets photographed.
It was a fun afternoon, and I highly recommend this little adventure into Florida’s history, if you’re in the area! Personal Notes: 1) A huge thank you for the prayers and/or donations to Molly McGreevy’s medical fund. You can access information and updates by clicking here: http://www.gofundme.com/mollysmedicalfund. 2) Ted has had several skin cancers removed over the last couple of weeks, and this morning the worst one was removed by a plastic surgeon. It was under the tip of his nose – in a very hard-to-get-to spot – and it was first thought skin grafts may be necessary. But – YEAH – it was removed and closed with stitches, making everything MUCH easier and faster to heal. We are glad that is over, and thankful he is now on the mend. 3) The world of volunteering is becoming busier for me. The hospital, which had said they needed no volunteers at this time, let me know a few days ago openings had become available. I’m starting the process of volunteer orientation at Florida Hospital Flagler on Monday, and I think it takes about a month to complete the whole program and actually start working. 4) Took a few more kitty photos this week. My favorites are below:
“Boo” – a 4-year-old female.
“Faith”- a 5-year-old female.
“Jazzabelle” – a 7-months-old female.
“Tiger” – an 8-year-old female.
“Panther” – a 2-year-old male.
And – GREAT NEWS!
Little Crossfire from last week has been ADOPTED!!
Have a great weekend everyone! God bless.