Fort Matanzas National Monument is situated on a coastal island south of St. Augustine, Florida. It was constructed by the Spanish in 1740 and completed in 1742. The main material used in the fort’s construction was coquina which was a common shellstone building material at the time. The fort was used in the effort to ward of the British who wished to encroach on St. Augustine. The only battle that occurred off of Matanzas Inlet was in 1742 when Governor James Oglethorpe of Georgia arrived with 12 ships. The ships were soon detected by the Spanish who responded with a single cannon shot. The fleet left after the fire without causing further action for the Spanish.
Fort Matanzas is only accessible by way of a guided tour boat. Matanzas Queen III was our ride to the inlet. Our tour guide was dressed in the apparel that would have been worn by the Spanish who guarded Fort Matanzas. He must of been relieved to remove the thick cloak after the tour.
After the United States took control of Florida in 1819, the fort was discontinued in use and became a ruin. In 1916 restoration began in an effort to restore the deteriorated fort to its former glory. In 1924 it became a national monument.
Upon the gun deck, I experienced a piece of the past. I was able to see the cast iron cannons which would of been used as a defense mechanism at the fort. Then, I entered the officer’s quarters where a rough bed and fireplace was located. I also observed the powder magazine which was used in storing gun powder. To end our tour, the guide explained history of the fort and gave an exciting demonstration of a musket firing. Everyone held their ears for the firing!
Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: Fort Matanzas National Monument is free! Find more information at http://usparks.about.com/library/miniplanner/blfortmatanzasnm.htm