Visiting Fort Jefferson has been on our Bucket List for some time. Ponce de Leon sailed to these Islands in 1513 and named them Las Tortugas for all the Turtles he found here which provided his men with a source of high protein food. The Dry part refers to the fact that there is no fresh water available. The Tortugas are strategically located along busy shipping lanes and the Fort here prevented attacks along the Gulf coast. It is the third largest fort ever built in this country. It took 30 years to build (1846-1875) it was never fully finished or armed and never engaged in battle. It did, however, serve it’s purpose by protecting the coastline and assuring peace. The army abandoned the fort in 1874 and the navy took over in the 1880’s and dredged the harbor. It was used briefly during both World Wars and then abandoned again. The fort became a National Monument in 1935 and in 1992 100 square of the Tortugas area became a National Park. Most of it is under water so it is really a marine park. After the civil war Fort Jefferson was also used as a prison. Dr. Samuel Mudd who was one of the Lincoln assassination co-conspirators was imprisoned here.
And now at days end we can check off that particular item and when we leave Key West two days hence there will be another item to check off. One of the interesting things about Bucket Lists is that they may not be as wonderful as you imagine, but you won’t know unless you have done it and you don’t want to say that you never tried.
All in all it was a good day. The sun was shining, the air was warm and the breeze was blowing. The guide was fun and informative, and the boat was brand new -- three months old. We had plenty of time on shore to tour with the guide, explore on our own, and go for a swim. For about one hour on the way back we hit some seriously rough water, which did not agree with many on board, including Marsha. With some TLC from the crew and smoother seas she did recover in about an hour and enjoyed the rest of the trip.