Dry Tortugas National Park

North America | admin | March 12, 2010

One of the most unique parks in the national park system is Dry Tortugas. It is small and remote and one of the least visited. Dry Tortugas National Park is wonderful. It comprises seven tiny islands, coral reefs, and undersea attractions. There are also plenty of nesting areas for birds. The park is spread over 64,657 acres of land.

The brick behemoth, known as Ft. Jefferson, is the most popular attraction of the park. The fort was built to protect the southern coastline of the United States. There were many flaws in its foundation. Improvements in the field of weapon technology have rendered many aspects obsolete. Despite this, the fort failed to live up to expectations.

Ponce de Leon was the first European to set foot on the islands in 1513. He caught nearly 160 sea turtles and called the islands ‘Tortugas’. The 17th and 18th century saw the presence of many pirates that attacked merchant ships in the Gulf region. This problem was significantly eliminated when the United States took over Florida in 1821. A lighthouse was erected in 1825 to serve as a warning for ships about the dangers of reefs.

The War of 1812 brought with it several forts stretching from Maine to Texas. This served as a defense for the region. Fort Jefferson was the most grand of all forts. The islands were transformed into a military reservation in 1845. Construction of the fort began in the subsequent year. The quarters for officers were completed in 1850 and the fort was officially called Thomas Jefferson. The walls acquired a final height of 45 feet in 1862.

The construction of the fort was spread over a period of 30 years. Till today, the work cannot be called as completely finished. The funds were not properly allocated by the Congress. Shortage of workers and supplies added to the problems. The weather, too, played spoilsport. The use of the rifled cannon during the Civil War made the walls more vulnerable to destruction. The fort, too, appeared obsolete.

No way to Dry Tortugas National Park can be called easy. The islands are situated nearly 70 miles west of Key West. The islands include the waters of the straights of Florida. Travelers need to take a four-hour boat ride in order to surpass the water of the straight that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

Excursions on ferries are popular. You are able to see little land on the trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Marquesas Islands near Key West are an exception. The waters that comprise the Gulf are stunning. The walls of Ft. Jefferson have a striking outline on Garden Key.

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