is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, constructed of
sixteen million bricks? That would be
Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park.
That’s where Tim and I spent the afternoon after driving from Everglades
National Park to Key West, Florida, along the Overseas Highway, one of the most
unique scenic byways in the country.
Florida Keys are a chain of islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one
side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
It’s a three-hour drive that is most spectacular when crossing the water
on the numerous bridges that connect the islands. The drive over the famous Seven Mile Bridge was
the highlight. Although a new bridge has
replaced the historic bridge, the original is still standing to the west.
|On the Seven Mile Bridge - The Historic Bridge Is on the Right|
arrived in Key West in time for a freshly-caught seafood lunch and then headed
to the airport to board a seaplane for a journey to the Dry Tortugas. Our seaplane adventure was our big splurge
for the trip. Our justification, as if
we needed one, was that this was the fastest and most scenic way to get to the Dry
Tortugas. We were able to complete the
trip in only four hours, as opposed to the entire day, which is how long the
ferry takes. Plus, a seaplane is
exciting and great fun.
|The Historic Seven Mile Bridge Arches|
|Pilots in Key West Wear Shorts and Fly Barefoot|
|Sarah on the Seaplane|
|Over Key West|
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most inaccessible national parks in the
country. Located in the Gulf of Mexico,
seventy miles due west of Key West, the islands were discovered by Ponce de
Leon and named for the sea turtles that were so abundant there.
Fort Jefferson from the air for the first time was incredible. It’s immense and occupies almost the entire
island. It was so cool to land on the
water adjacent to the fort and step out onto the sandy shore. Fort Jefferson was just as big on the ground
as it appeared from the air. Since the ferry
was leaving as we arrived, we practically had the fort to ourselves. We wandered in and out and climbed the
circular stairs to the upper tier. The
views were gorgeous.
|Approaching Fort Jefferson|
|Fort Jefferson Is Huge|
|What a Place to Land|
|Tim on the Edge of the Moat|
|On the Upper Tier Looking at the Lighthouse and the Interior of the Fort|
|The Cannonball Oven on the Left and the Primary Magazine on the Right|
Jefferson was built to control navigation to the Gulf of Mexico and protect
Atlantic-bound Mississippi River trade. Construction began in 1846 and continued for
thirty years, but was never finished. The
fort served as a military prison during the Civil War. Its most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd,
who was convicted in conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd’s cell is a place that everyone who visits
wants to see.
|The Doorway to Dr. Mudd's Cell|
and I marveled at the fortitude of the National Park Service employees who work
and live at Fort Jefferson. The park
housing is actually in the fort, and about ten employees and their families
live here. It’s a beautiful place, but I’m
not sure it would be my favorite place to live for any length of time.
|Beautiful Brick Arches|
|Let's Hope that Fort Jefferson Can Withstand the Forces of Nature and Time|
flight back to Key West was just as beautiful, and the sun was beginning to set
as we landed. It was an amazing afternoon,
and I would highly recommend a seaplane ride to anyone.
I've done that drive to Key West and it is amazing. I didn't know anything about Ft. Jefferson tho. You are educating me. Why do you think they named it Ft. Jefferson? What a great idea to take the sea plane. Really gives you a different view of things! Glad you had a great day. LVReplyDelete