PORT JEFER8SONI ATIOIAL IONMENT
THE FORT JEFFERSON RATIONAL iONUMERT
Dry Tortugas lighthouse, Loggerhead Egy, Tortupg La-
borato6r, arnegie Institutiton of ashingtone Tern
Rookeries, Bush 7ey. Fort Jefferson, Garden Key
GEIY; AL iRtES M
I- -- il _
THE DH TORTUGAS were visited in 1515 by Ponce de Leon, who there
eaptimed, in a single night, one h red and sixty tortoises
er turtles HeI named theislndS't the Spanish name
for turtles. The adjective "Dry" probably describes the.
scanty rainfall. Squalls are sometimes -seen all around, but
.rain rarely falls on these islands
At present the. islands number seven, Laggerhead, aCrden, Dush
East, Middle, Ziorth and the rer:ains of Bird Key. Tidal action
constantly changes their contour, soe islands disappearing
and new ones formingp
The Dry Tortuga lie 85 miles west of Key West. They may be
visited by chartered or private vessels, there being no reg-
tlar ship service* During the water months the Miami.Key
West Aeroplane Gmpany, Ino solmetimes h aoexrions by
S plane, /
Tb Port Jeffersam National Monument ePitsee ll nthe Dry
Tetuas and is under the Jur'isdiobe f the i tinal Park
service, apartment of the Interieor eustodia ias in
inaediate charge and visitors should register in the Monu
ment Visitorst Book an a rrivalr her is eoellent anghrage
and docking space for yachts.
MEY TORTUGAS LIGUTOUS'. The lighthouse was originally built in
1825 on Garden Key, and reduced to a harbor light in 1858,
when tlhe resent light an .Loggerhead Key was built and placed
in operations* It is 151 feet high. The li3ht, visible from
19 to 23 miles, is 1,600,000 candle power, flashing white
every 20 seconds, duration of flash one second. Under ex-
eeptional weather conditions .the light has 'een seen by ships
fifty miles distant.
THE TORTUGAS IABORATey of the Qarnegie Institution ef Iashinnon
has been in operation for over fifty years. Here, each
summer, marine biologists and other scientists study the life
of the coral reef, and the results of their investigations are
published in the auttun. Not open to the :ublie. Women are
not permitted to the section of the island -on which the labi
oratory building are located.
THI ROOKEI0=ES 3ush Keyq n 13.82 John James Audubon, the ornithol.
ogist, visited the Dry Tortqtas and described the bird life
an Bird Key. Due to tidal action this key has been subtaerged
and the terns have transferred their breeding ground to
Bush Key, where one may. observe praetically the same onditions
as Audubon reeds Theiosands of terns chiefly naod ies
sooties, and leaet berna lay their egs here frem ApiA to
October, Formoely. tbe Dry Tortu~sa rookeies vere pillage
by eggers froe Cba snd florida, who took away. busbhelsj gp
'- for marketing This destruction haq been discontinued sinee
the proclamation of the Tortugas as a National MoaenMto,
Visitors to the monament who are interested in bird la re
be permitted to visit Bush Key and take photographs under, the
supervision of the custodian.
FORT JEFFERSN ADE KEY. This key was reserved by the Uited
States for military purposes on December 17, 1846. Pre-
liminary steps toward the construction of the fort were taken
in 1846. Lieut. Horatio G. Wright, U.S.C.E.9 was assigned
the task of constructing the mammoth six-eid ed1 three-tiered,
oasemated fortress Many difficulties were encountered in
building settlement, hardships in living conditions due to
bad food loss of cargo in ships wrecked on their way to the
site*. until 1863, luch slave labor was used, slaves from Key
West and St. Augustine being hired out by their owners.
Periodically, it seemed, hurricanes destroyed thousands of
dollars worth of property. Fever broke out amongst the work-
ers every few years.
By the begginin of the Civil War the curtains and casemates
of the fort were carried to the height of the second floor
arches; by the end of the War, the fort was almost as complete
as we see it today.
In 1861, the fort was garrisoned under the comad of aor '
L. GQ. Arnoldi USA, who four dayq after arrival mnted six
eightianch leembiads and six field pieces. e sre go s were
added later, ad a suppleentary battery heated n Bird Key.
ArnodAst activities are said to be responsible foe keeping the
fort in the hands of non forces* A Confederate vessel ar
rived in the harbor and the captain sent a essenger to the
fort to demand its surrender to the State of Florida. The guns
were not mounted, yet Major Arnold's reply was, "Tell your
Captain I will blow his ship out of the water if he is not
gone away from here in ten minutes." The bluff worked and
the ship sailed away.
The major role played by the fort was that of a prison. The
most famous prisoner incarcerated here was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd,
a Maryland physicians who gave medical attention to Booth,
President Lincoln's slayer, unaware of the identity of his
patient* Dr. Mudd, together with several others, was tried
by military commission for conspiracy in the assassination
plotl and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor* He
was brought to Fort Jefferson, and confined here, sometimes in
irons, for four years* He suffered many hardships at the hands
of his sailors, had to do the most menial work, and once made a
fruitless attempt to escape to a place where the writ of Habeas
Corpus might be active Prisoners had escaped from the fort,
despite the fact that the moat was said to be populated by
In 1867, an epidemic supposed to have been yellow fever ravaged
the fort, -and claimed many victims, aaogs. them the post sr-
geon Brevet Major Joseph S8 Smithe. r. aIdd offered his ser-
vices a physician and his offer was- asepted by commanding
officer, Dr. MuMts heroic services were highly praised by the
garrison, and a petition was made for his release* Major
Valentine Stone, the commanding officer, had promised to see
that the petition reached the proper officials in Washington,
but he contracted the disease enroute to Key West and there died.
Dr. Mudd's letters, which are published in "The, Lie of
Dr. Samuel A* Madd", by his daughter Nettie Idd,, give harrow-
ing accounts of the terror-stricken population of the fort
and the hasty burials of victims of the disease* After the
epidemic Dr. Mudd was again placed in confinement and his work
evidently forgotten. Not until March 11, 1869, after ah im- '
prisonment of four years was Dr. Mdd. released, pardoned by
President Johnson. He died at his home in Maryland fourteen
years later, at the age of fifty..
In 1873, another epidemic as well as a hurricane swept the fort.
The Fort was abandoned for thorough disinfection and the gar*
prison removed. Oly .a caretaker and lighthouse keepers remained.
In 1898, when war with Spain seemed imminent, the Navy Depart-
ment took over the fort. It was from Dry Tortugas that the ill-
fated U.S.S. "Maine* sailed to Havana on her last voyage. The
Navy abandoned the fort-in 1906, and since then haurraes and
fire have wreaked some of the buildings. The Fort become a
rendezvous for fishing macks and yachts and results of vadal-
isam are avident everywere.
In 1934 a slvraging oepany partly demolished the oal rips
and later in the mM year a group of World War Veteran was
sent to lean up ad partially rehabilitate the fWrt
On January 4 198354 the IDry Tortugas Islands were prelaied
"The Fort Jefferson National Monument" by President Frankln D.
E7T JEFFERSO DRY TOTAS. The only entrance to-the fort is by
the sally-port on the Southeast side. The visitor should note
the massive granite construction, and traces of the apparatus
for raising and lowering the drawbridge. The entrance has
been defaced by vandals. On the right and left may be seen
narrow slits in the wall, ventilating the guard room cells.
This side of the fort has recently been wired and electric
lights made available for inspection of the magazines, some-
times used as confinement pells. In the bastion towers are
magazine chambers. The remains of some of the gun carriages
may be seen on the first tier. Each of the casemates was
designed for a gun. Notice should be taken of the perfectly
aligned rows of arches separating the casemates, and of the
great thickness of the walls* Underneath the casemates are
cisterns for the storage of rain water conducted from the
terreplein or roof of the fort*
Each of the six bastions contains a circular stairway of great
slabs of granite leading to the terreplein. The masonry is a
beautiful piece of work
The structures on the top of the fort are magazines frm ehic
the terreplein guns were to be supplied with amanition Some
of the guns may still be seen 15-inch smooth bore guns, and
10-inoh rifled guns.
On the parade ground are several buildings. Directly opposite
the sally-port across the parade. ground are the officers'
quarters, wrecked by hurricane and fire. On the side to the
right of the sally-port are the rains of the soldiers' barracks.
Two magazines, never completed, are seen their enormous
arches intended to carry a bomb proof roof, There is a hot-
shot furnace, used for heating shot in the hope of its setting
first to wooden ships*
On the parade ground is a monument erected to the memory of
Brevet Major Joseph Sia Smith and his small son. Dr. Smith
had been post surgeon and died during the epidemic in 1867.
Along the walls inside the fort are trenches1 part of the
seweragesystm, designed to be flooded by the tide twice a
Outside the fort are the gaunt rains of two oaling stations
erected by ,the Navy Department. Their structural steel was
twisted and bent by hurricane shortly after erectione
f513 Ponce do Lea sailed past Florida Keys, naming then
1815 Key West, known as Cayo Hueso (Bone Island) granted
to Juan Pablo Salas, by Don Juan de IEtrada. for
meritorious service to the crown of Spain.
1822 Key West bought from Salas by John W. Simonto of
Mobile Alabia for $2,000.
1822 Bretthrn f .the Coast" driven from Key WeSt and_
vicinity and destroyed by Comnodore David Porter*
1822 Lieut. H. C. Perry took possession of the island as
part of the territory ceded to the United States by
Spain. Naval depot established,
1824 United States Marines arrive in Key West*
1828 Congress passed a bill establishing at Key West .the
"Superior Court of the Southern Judicial Distriot of
the Territley of 1orida.o
1828 i ineerporatien of the City of Key West.
1829 Poet Office establishMe.
1831 Ar Barraros eonstroted.
First cigar factory in United States established by
William H. Wall.
1832 Saint Paul's Church founded.
186 Building of Fort Taylor begun.
1846 Most destructive of all hurricanes strikes the oity.
1846 Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas,
struotion begun or
1846 Marine Hospital l
~~~~L~ ) ~,,I ---r 0Q
1861 East and West Martello Towers constructed as additional
Key Westt the only Southern oity to remain in hands of
Union throughout duration of Civil War*
1868 Arrival of Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mazy
ST Cuban to b
189 The eat Cuban migration to Key W t beu.a*
First ball of San Carlos Institute P1tatLtoe y
Dooate dedicated. .
1876 COastrttion of first City 1l.
Destroyed by ire
1886 Great fire destroyed a large part of the city.
1898 "MaiheW1 survivors and injured brought from Bavana
to Key West by U.S.Lighthouse Tender "Mangrove"
First Spanish-American prize of war brought to
1912 -Oversead Railway completed.
1926 Overseas Highway and Fery System completed.
1930 Present United States Custom House Post Offices
and Court House completed.
1934 Beginning of rehabilitation of Key West by Plorida
Emergency Relief Administration.
193s Florida East Coast Railway service to Key Vett
terminated after hurricane destroyed miles of track.