50)Fort Zachary Taylor
The United States exploited the strategic defensive location of the Florida Keys soon after Florida was ceded to the Union. In 1823 the West Indian Anti-Piracy Squadron was established at Key West in an effort to rid the neighboring waters of pirates. The construction of Fort Zachary Taylor at the tip of Key West, from 1844-1860, and Fort Jefferson, its companion fort farther west in the Dry Tortugas, strengthened the strategic importance of the Florida Keys. The trapezoidal shaped fort was constructed about 1000 feet offshore. Years of silt build-up in the harbor, however, have made the fort landlocked. Several years after the fort was constructed, "Dr. Normandy's Patent Marine Aerated Fresh Water Apparatus," a French desalting plan, was installed to provide fresh water. Excavations have uncovered this fascinating machinery as well as cannons and projectiles. During the Civil War, Key West was the center of naval operations and the base for the blockade of the South. At one time, 299 captured Confederate ships were held in the Key West Harbor under the guns of the fort. Toward the end of the Spanish-American War, the massive walls of the fort were reduced to a single story.
Fort Zachary Taylor, a National Historic Landmark, is at the southwest end of Key West off Southard Street. Open daily 8:00 a.m. - dusk. Admission. (305) 292-6713.