It was a beautiful, sunny morning, just right to spend the morning touring Fort Pickens. We rode our bikes down the path to the Visitor's Center. After watching the 15 minute introductory video about the fort, we set off to see it.
Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay and its navy yard. The fort was begun in 1829, completed in 1834, and used until 1947. The only real action the fort endured was during the Civil War. It was one of four seacoast forts in the South that remained in Union control during the entire war. Later, Geronimo was housed here when he was a prisoner.
Most of the fort consisted of gun emplacements both atop and within the walls. Granite semicircles in the floor supported the great weight of the cast iron guns.
Slots under the windows locked gun carriages into the wall and provided a pivot.
Vents over the windows allowed the tremendous amounts of smoke produced by black powder ammunition to disperse.
To support the weight of the fort on sand, engineers used the reverse arch. Just as the arches overhead distribute weight to the piers, the reverse arches at the bottom spread the weight of the entire structure to minimize settling. On the right side of the arch is a niche that was cut into the brick so that the cannons could turn.
A 15-inch Rodman cannon was installed on the Tower Bastion in 1868. It would take a ten man crew to man the cannon. Four men would carry the ball, one man would sponge the barrel to extinguish any sparks from the previous shot while two others handle the 50 pound powder charge, another man holds a ramrod, there is an officer checking the aim, and the tenth man waits to bring up the next powder charge.
Here's another view from the top where the cannon was placed.
Looking down on the parade grounds, you can see part of the fort wall missing on the left.
This corner was destroyed when a fire begun in warehouse areas reached a black powder magazine containing 8,000 pounds of powder. The explosion on June 20, 1899 showered debris one and a half miles.
The tour was really interesting and definitely worth a stop if you are ever in the area.
After lunch, we headed over to the beach. As you walk down the road to the beach, there are quite a few of dead tree tops where Great Blue Herons have built nests. I was able to catch a picture of a pair in their nest.
Jim has been wanting to fly a kite on the beach ever since we were in Oregon this summer. He finally got to try out his Prism Snapshot 1.9 Speed Kite that he got for his birthday.
It looked like quite a workout.
What a beautiful day to spend at the beach!