Title: Fort Jefferson National Monument, Florida 1981
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00016772/00001
 Material Information
Title: Fort Jefferson National Monument, Florida 1981
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: 1981
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Monroe -- Dry Tortugas -- Caribbean
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00016772
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA9439

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c Largest Link in America's 19th-century Coastal Defenses
O) Like a strand of beads hanging from the tip of Florida, reef islands trail As it turned out, Fort Jefferson, one-half mile in perimeter, became the so-called Lincoln Conspirators Michael O Loughlin. Samuel I /nold.
westward into the Gulf of Mexico. Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies a largest link in the chain of seacoast fortifications the United States under- Edward SDangler. and Dr Samuel Mudd -who had been tried and cr :ted
'v cluster of seven coral reefs called the Dry Tortugas, which, along with took to build from Maine to Texas during the first half of the 1800s. From of complicity in the assassination ol President Abraham Lincol iogt
c: surrounding shoals and waters, make up Fort Jefferson National Monu- foundation to crown, its 8-foot-thick walls stand 50 feet high. Its three famous ol these was Dr Mudd a Mar/land oh/sician who. kno.. ig noth-
ment. Though offthebeatentrack, the monument isfamousforitsbirdand gun tiers were designed for 450 guns and it was large enough to garrison ing of Lincoln s murder. had set the broken leg of the fugitive assassin
_j marine life, as well as for its legends of pirates and sunken gold. Its central 1,500 men. Planned and supervised by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the John Wilkes Booth Sentenced to life imprisonment Mudd was pardoned
b.. feature, from which the monument derives its name, is Fort Jefferson, fort was started in 1846, and, although work continued foralmost 30 years, in 1869'or helping to fight the 1867 yellow lever epidemic that struck the
largest of the 19th-century American coastal forts. it was never finished. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, most of the fort. felling 270 of the 300-man garrison and resulting in 38 latalilies ITne
m Hl labor force consisted of artisans from the North and slaves from Key West. cell occupied by Dr Mudd during his years of confinement can still be
( U Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovered these islands in 1513 and After 1861 the slaves were partly replaced by imprisoned Union deserters, seen at the fort today I
uj 0 called them Las Tortugas-the Turtles-because of the great number of but slave labor did not end completely until the Emancipation Proclama-
=1 turtles he found there. (The later name, Dry Tortugas, warns the mariner tion went into effect in January 1863. The Army linall/ abandoned Fort Jefferson in 1374 following a damaging
t- hat the islands contain no fresh water.) In the centuries that followed, hurricane and another lever outbreak During the 1880S the American
> many Spanish and British vessels cruising the Florida straits passed the Federal troops occupied Fort Jefferson throughout the Civil War, but naval fleet used the surrounding waters periodically as an anchorage and
( Tortugas, braving both corsairs and shipwreck. Not until Florida became beyond firing a few shots at passing Confederate privateers, they saw no ii was from Tortugas Harbor in January 1898 that the battleship Maine
Dart of the United States in 1821 were the pirates finally driven out. Then action. The average garrison numbered 500 men, who spent most of theirAs the hotorah of Meatsoiied in h Disase as an er weighed anchor for Cuba where one month later she blew up in Haana
. in 1825 a lighthouse was built on Garden Key to alert sailors to rocky time building quarters for themselves and their officers. Little important one otthe park sling heat. Bread baked n present threat and Harbor The Arm, stationed a lew troops here during the Spanish-
shoalsthatcould bring a vessel to grief. Thirty-oneyearslater, the present work was done after 1866, forth new rifled cannon introduced during the history interpreters thefort ofen lasted of often meant quaran- American War and the Nav built a coaling station ere in 1898 The or
light on Loggerhead Key was erected. war had already made the fort obsolete. Moreover, in 1864 engineers (above, left) suggests, salt, insects. and sea- line. like that el peri- also contained one of the first naval wireless stations In 1908 this area
making subsoil experiments confirmed that the fort's foundations rested life for men assigned weed. Cis:erns built enced b,' the soldiers became a wildlife refuge to protect the Sooty Tern Rookery whicn had
The strategic important e of the Tortugas was recognized early. Naval Lt. not upon a solid coral reef, as had been thought, but upon sand and coral to Fort Jefferson was Lu hold rai, Iaidli auue IyII Ti, almost oeen wiped out by uyy uuiluciur Du, iiiy Vjul id iWi I ii .T. ja
Josiah Tattnall, who surveyed the islands in 1829, pointed out that any boulders washed up by the sea. The huge structure was settling and the a long and frequently cracked and Iresh garrison s greatest were equipped to serve as a seaplane base but this lasted onll a few
nation occupying the Tortugas would control navigation of the Gulf. An walls began to crack. lonely ordeal. Many drinking water turned fear however was months Then the brick fort man considered the Gibraltar of the Gulf
enemy, seizing the islands, would threaten the growing Mississippi Valley soldiers were unac- brackish and putrid yellow fever whn was quietly abandoned to the winds and the birds and the sea Res;ued
customer to the isola- Lackoffresh frullsand struck the for['Alin Rooseveltns 1935 proclamation
commerce which sailed the Gulf to reach the Atlantic. It was for this During the Civil War, Fort Jefferson had served as a military prison for tion and the scorching veetabes encour deasat efe In rom oblon b President Frankl D Roose s 1935 proclamation
reason that the U.S. War Department decided to fortify the Tortugas and captured deserters. For almost 10 years after the fighting stopped, it temperatures aged scur.,' 1867 and 1873 naming theareaa nationalmonument Fort Jefferson stands today small
ordered the construction of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. remained a prison. Among the prisoners sent here in 1865 were four of the but proud part of America s national heritage
Garrison Quarters Island Keys Lure Variety
Garrinusedas Q s rl uTortugas Support Myriad Marine and Plant Life of Migratory Birds
gSoldiers'Barracks aquarantinearea pletec The warm, clear waters but these large crea- acterize the reef fishes Tortugas because the
of the Gulf of Mexico tures are still observed The varied hues serve saline soil long
I/mFietedbyh-- i- af.._.er.. e.-_ ......and maximum avail- in the Dry Tortugas the purposes of cam- droughts. and tre-
able light combine to area. Species seen ouflage, recognition Quent storms impose
a A '-" a I a ?_-'L a` 'I ~ i ii I. a I Iproduce optimum con- recently include warning, cr as an abd severe growing con-
____J___ ___-_;_____-__ _t_ IL_. _1 dcitionsforthedevel- hawksbill. green and tocourtshp The small dtons Man, plants
opment of coral reefs. loggerhead Thou- fish attract larger have been Introduced
NiYinao.copadCompleted. in associated with the green turtles have amberjack grouper. for ornamental pur-
1874. Comp shallow waters on the been released on the wahoo, and tarpon poses On Garden and
1860 Apart- outeredge of offshore Tortugas harbor beaches of Everglades which play an impor- Loggerhead Keys so.:r, aer
Ofioers' i Completed in ments used by tropical islands. The National Park and tant ecological role b, the latter group in-
Oaffilers' ficiau 1874 Never of- officers during true builders of coral Fort Jefferson Na- feeding or the smaller eludes such con-
Quarters ficially used. the Civil War. reefs are small primi- lional Monument in an fish and keeping their spicuous plants as
//-._p 1h e Civilu W five animals called effort to enlarge pop- numbers i-t check Alt coconut and date
o-rat.on. o_ c e -spolyps. Over the cen- ulations. Other such the residents of the palms tamarind Aus-
turies accumulations releases were made coral reef must be tralian pines gumbo
s s. of living polyps have throughout the Carib- constantly alert for limbo, and century,
P.. .vae hv awar of he s ."' :formed coral colonies bean area, and more the marauders of the plants The native flora
:--. L -- -"---- -L of rigid structures, releases are planned sea-the ever-cruisng is mainly mangrove lot
p r me'..- -'-',. opr reels for future years. shark anc Ihe swivt burtonwood. bay
~--.--rg f r i-- n '-~o--J barracuda Sttlnq atop cedar seagrape, sea- oq,=t.p e,. daors/.rse-F
The Tortugas reef .e Although a diversity, the food chain. these lavender purslane
Among the first build- in 1861, and more racks were completed. complex supports a search of food, a lob- colors dot the sand of lower animal forms predatorsare essential and seaoats-all typl- One of our great na- shading their single trigatebirds also can-
ings begun after the than 1,000 men had to Ironically, the U.S. myriad of marine life. ster's antennae wave bottom. Clusters of inhabits the reefs, the in maintaining a na- cal of Florida s east tional wildlife spec- egg from the sun gregate at the Dry
fort was established find makeshift quarters Army abandoned the Multi-colored sea frantically trying to staghorn coral resem- most dominant crea- tural balance in the coast faces occurs each When the young are Tortugas in summer
were officers quarters in wooden sheds and fort that same year. ferns sway in the detect potential danger ble underwater forests tures are scores of marine habitat year between April strong enough for Its 7-foot wingspan
and soldiers barracks gunrooms. In 1874, Today, only skeleton gentle ocean currents Other strange animals aggress;ie colorful, and September. when continuous flight. the makes it one of the
Nellther had been more than 30 years ruins of these two, sea anemones thrust including several Indlscrimlnate hunt- small fishes Vivid Fewer than 50 species the sooty terns gather colony disperses most graceful of soar-
completed by the time after they were started, once-huge buildings their rose and lavender species of sponges of ing has diminished the shades of red,yellow, of land plants are on Bush Key for their ing birds A few blue-
the Civil War broke out the quarters and bar- can be seen. tentacles upward in various sizes and sea turtle population, green and blue char- native to the Dry nesting season The The presence of these laced and brown
terns come by the tropical oceanic birds boobies are observed
thousands from the at Tortugas was re- occasionally Roseate
Caribbean Sea and corded as early as terns nest on Hospl-
west-central Atlantic 1513 by Ponce de tal. Bush. and Long
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Isolated and Dry ~... Safe Visit Requires Preparation ~Write Ocean As early as Leon Today the rook- Keys at the same time
Fora Jefferson is open visit the fort Nautical rough seas are isolated. you must explains the fort s sig- opportunities for -*- For more information mild-January sooties erl here contains an other terns are nest-,
during daylight hours charts for the route provide for your own nlflcance. then lake underwater photog- about the monument begin conducting estimated 100.000 ing In season. a con-
only Public transpor- can be purchased at Seaplane approaches, existence. no housing, the sell-guiding lour raphy ,. .- write the Superlnten- nocturnal maneuvers breeding adults A tenuous procession of
nation to the fort is marinas and boating landings. takeolts. water. meals. or sup- d ent of Everglades over the Tortugas. colony to brown songbirds and other
available from Key supply outlets in Key mooring. and docking plies are available Snorkelers will find Salt-water sport fish- .National Park Box spending their days noddies interspersed migrants fly over or
West by boat and am- West Information can are limited to the area Camping is permitted marine lile concen- ing is good most of the 279. Homestead. FL at sea. Presumably. among the sooties. rest at the islands,
phibious aircraft In- be obtained in Key within a mile of the in the grassed picnic traded around patches year and no fishing U, 33030 mating occurs during comprises only about which lie across one
formation on charter West from the U S iort itself In summer. area; grills and picnic of live coral Swim- license is required. this time, for when 2.500 birds, but the of the principal Ily-
boats and flights can Coast Guard Station seaplanes must stay tables are provided mers can explore the Regulations can b they land in March. population is increas- ways from the United
be obtained from the the Chamber of Con- beyond 100 yards off No bathing facilities fascinating coral won- obtained from pe:.Jn- egg-laying begins ing The two species States to Cuba and
Key West Chamber of merce and the Charter Bush Key. which sup- are available. derland in only 3 or 4 net stationed at ihe immediately Their share the ability to SouthAmerica Famil-
Commerce Boat Assoclation ports a nesting tern feel oa water Coral fort nests are no more capture fish and squid iar gulls and ferns of
Boaters should be colony Upon arrival, plan first formations and bril- than depressions in from the water s sur- the North. plus r
FPlvate boaters have a aware of the possl- to see the orienlatlon liant tropical fish the warm sand The face while in flight. migratory shore G
prime opportunity to biliry of extremely Since the Tortugas slide program. which provide excellent parents take turns Large numbers of winter at the Tor 3932
. F6





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