Fort Pickens | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Fort Pickens

Florida, Florida, United States

Peta Stamper

05 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens is an historic US military fort in Pensacola, Florida, named after Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens. Today, Fort Pickens forms part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a site overseen by the National Park Service.

Fort Pickens history

After the War of 1812 with the British, the US decided to fortify all the major forts. Begun in 1829, Fort Pickens was a Third System Fort intended to protect Pensacola Harbor, a role which it fulfilled together with Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee as well as the Navy Yard. In fact, when it was completed in 1834, Fort Pickens was the largest of the forts built for this purpose and remained in use until 1947.

Over the course of its existence, Fort Pickens has seen a range of action, both military and otherwise, including during the Civil War. Pickens was one of just four southern forts to have evaded capture by the Confederates.

In 1886, Fort Pickens took on a new role as a prison for Apaches including Geronimo – the famous Apache war chief who was a prisoner there until 1888.

Fort Pickens today

Nowadays, visitors can take as long as they want following a self-guided tour of the fort once active during the American Civil War. The ruined arches of Fort Pickens – the park centrepiece – lead you underground into the bunkers, added to over the centuries as the US saw different conflicts.

At Fort Pickens you will also find a small gift shop, visitor’s centre, ferry landing point, camp sites and scenic picnic spots. The fort is also surrounded by great walking paths and secluded beaches away from the bustle of tourists.

Getting to Fort Pickens

From Pensacola on the Florida coast, Fort Pickens is found by car just off route 98 turning onto the 180 interstate (which takes around 42 minutes). On foot, you can reach Fort Pickens by heading to the Florida Trail Northern Terminus from Battery Worth.

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