Fort Zachary Taylor is a Perfect example of the wealth of
Florida has to offer. The park, which now covers a total of 87 acres,
is a National Landmark that played a significant role in Florida's
Construction of the fort began in 1845, shortly after Florida became a
state. In 1850, the fort was named after U.S. President Zachary Taylor,
who died in office earlier that year. Throughout the 1850s, construction
on the Fort Taylor was slow. Yellow Fever, shortages of material and
men, remoteness and hurricanes had slowed down progress.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Capt. John Brannon occupied
the fort, placing it in Union hands. Key West was an important outpost
for the Union because numerous blockade running ships were detained
at Key West harbor and guarded by Fort Taylor's cannons. The 10 inch
Rodman and Columbiad cannons at the fort had a range of three miles.
This was an impressive deterrent to the Confederate navy, preventing
them from attempting to take the fort or the island of
Key West. Proving
to be a severe loss for the South, Fort Taylor remained in Union hands
throughout the Civil War.
By the time the three story fort was finally finished in 1866 (21 years
it was begun), there were many impressive features included. Items such
as sanitary facilities flushed by the tide and a desalination plant which
produced drinking water from the sea were available as early as 1861. A
total of 198 guns and a large supply of ammunition were on hand to secure
In the years to follow, Fort Taylor was again used during the Spanish-
American War. In 1889, in an effort to modernize the fort, the top levels
were cut down to install newer weapons. Further remodeling also included
the addition of Battery Osceola and Battery Adair on the inside of the fort.
With the coming of the 20th century, more sophisticated weapons and
eventually radar and other devices took the place of the guns. By 1947,
the Army turned Fort Taylor over to the Navy to Maintain.
Beginning in1968, through the tireless efforts of volunteers,
for old armaments in the gun rooms un covered a number of guns and
ammunition from the Civil War times. This represents only a fraction of
the buried arsenal, which is the largest collection of Civil War cannons in
the U.S. In recognition of this, Fort Taylor was placed on the National
of Historic Places in 1971. Two years later, the fort was designated a
Historic Landmark for the