Guide to Historic Sites in Florida

American Heritage, Summer-Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Guide to Historic Sites in Florida


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FORTS & BATTLEFIELDS

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park

Forty-five minutes south of Ocala by car, the 80-acre park preserves the site where Seminole Indian warriors ambushed Maj. Francis L. Dade and his command on December 28, 1835, killing 105 of the I08 soldiers, during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). The visitor center features displays and offers a 12-minute video about the battle. (352) 793-4781 or www.floridastateparks.org/dadebattlefield

Fort Barrancas & Fort Pickens

Originally built in 1844, 10-acre Fort Barrancas was restored in 1980 to look as it did when Confederates camped there in March 1865. The visitor's center, located on Pensacola's Naval Air Station base, 700 yards north of the Advanced Redoubt, displays exhibits on early Pensacola history, and the critical role of the fort during the Civil War. Fifty minutes away by car is Fort Pickens, a Union stronghold during the war and later a prison that housed the Chiricahua Apache Chief Geronimo. (850) 934-2600 or www.nps.gov/ guis/planyourvisit/fort-barrancas.htm and www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/ fort-pickens.htm

Fort Jefferson

Completed in 1962, the 219-square-mile, fortified Civil War-era island prison held Samuel A. Mudd, the doctor who provided medical treatment for President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Visitors can see the walls, towers, and armories of the western hemisphere's largest masonry fortress, which spans most of the 25-acre Garden Key Island, or scuba dive and snorkel among the many shipwrecks in the surrounding area. Boats leave Key West and take two hours to reach the island. (305) 242-7700 or www.nps.gov/drto

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park

Built in 1845, this brick fort remained in Union hands during the Civil War, guarding Key West Harbor from blockade runners. Guided tours of the fort include the barracks, three gun rooms, and the reinforced-concrete Osceola Battery built during the Spanish-American War. (305) 292-6713 or www.floridastateparks.org/forttaylor

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park

On February 20, 1864, the farmland supply routes of Olustee became the flash point for a fierce engagement between a Union army detachment under Gen. Seymour and a Confederate army under Gen. Beauregard. Interpretive signs recount the Confederate victory, in which 2,807 men died or were wounded. (386) 758-0400 or www.floridastateparks.org/olusteebattlefield

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AVIATION & SPACE HISTORY SITES

Air Force Armament Museums

Built on the southern tip of the Eglin Air Force Base, the 28,000-square-foot museum explores American military aviation history from WWI to the present day. The extensive collection features more than 25 planes and aerial weapons, including a UH-1 Iroquois helicopter flown in the Vietnam War and a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, the "Mother of All Bombs." (850) 651-1808 or www.afarmamentmuseum.com

Fantasy of Flight

Guided tours lead from the main entrance of the 100,000-square-foot art deco facility in Polk City through three hangars chockfull of aviation history exhibits and more than 40 vintage aircrafts, including a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress, a flying replica of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and the nation's only operational B-26 Marauder. Visitors can take part in a simulated dog fight in an authentic Corsair Fighter, take a trip in a hot air balloon, or fly in a Boeing Stearman PT-17. A multimedia exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen exhibits a restored P51C Mustang as well as photos and interviews of the first African American pilots. (863) 984-3500 or www.fantasyofflight.com

Kennedy Space Center

Completed in 1962, this 219-square-mile center has staged more than 100 manned NASA missions. …

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