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The two RV Gypsies at
Fort Matanzas National Monument
August 25, 2014
map of USA showing location of FloridaMap of Florida showing location of Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas National Monument sign Fort Matanzas National Monument sign
Fort Matanzas National Monument map

Below: The dock behind the Visitors Center. The two RV Gypsies waited for their very short boat trip to Fort Matanzas. This was the only way to get to Fort Matanzas, but there was no charge.

The dock behind the Visitors Center
The pier and boats
wild Oyster sign
wild oyster shells
Matanzas River
wild oyster shells

View of Fort Matanzas from the boat ramp.

View of Fort Matanzas from the boat ramp.
View of Fort Matanzas from the boat ramp.

There are more photos below the Fort Matanzas history, so if you don't want to read the history, just scroll down the page, but the history is interesting

Anaomy of the fort

IMPORTANTA lot of history is posted below. BUT if history is not your thing, scroll down past the history for more photos.

Fort Matanzas National Monument was designated a United States National Monument on October 15, 1924. The monument consists of a 1740 Spanish fort called Fort Matanzas, and about 100 acres of salt marsh and barrier islands along the Matanzas River on the northern Atlantic coast of Florida. It is operated by the National Park Service in conjunction with the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in the city of St. Augustine.

history bookFort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River, which could be used as a rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine. Such an approach avoided St. Augustine's primary defense system, centered at Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740, Gov. James Oglethorpe of Georgia used the inlet to blockade St. Augustine and launch a 39 day siege. St. Augustine endured the siege, but the episode convinced the Spanish that protecting the inlet was necessary to the security of the town. Under Gov. Manuel de Montiano's orders, construction of the fort began that year and was completed in 1742. Engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano designed the fortified observation tower. Convicts, slaves, and troops from Cuba were used as labor to erect the structure, which was sited on present-day Rattlesnake Island and had a commanding position over Matanzas Inlet.

The fort, known to the Spanish as Torre de Matanzas (Matanzas Tower), is a masonry structure made of coquina, a common shellstone building material in the area. The marshy terrain was stabilized by a foundation of pine pilings to accommodate a building 50 feet long on each side with a 30-foot high tower. The standard garrison of the fort was one officer in charge, four infantrymen, and two gunners, though more troops could be stationed if necessary. All soldiers at Fort Matanzas served on rotation from their regular duty in St. Augustine. Five cannon were placed at the fort, four six-pounders and one eighteen-pounder. All guns could reach the inlet which at the time was less than half a mile away.

In 1742, as the fort was nearing completion, the British under Oglethorpe approached the inlet with twelve ships. Cannon fire drove off the scouting boats and the warships left without engaging the fort. This brief encounter was the only time Fort Matanzas fired on an enemy. Spain lost control of Florida with the Treaty of Paris, 1763, and regained control with the Treaty of Paris, 1783. With the Spanish Empire falling apart, Spain spent little effort maintaining the fort after this time. When the United States took control of Florida in 1821, the fort had deteriorated to the point where soldiers could not live inside. The United States never used the fort and it became a ruin.

Fort Matanzas was named for the inlet, which acquired its name after the executions, or matanzas (Spanish: slaughters), on its north shore, of Jean Ribault and his band of Huguenot Frenchmen, the last of the Fort Caroline colonists,by the Spanish in 1565.

In 1916, the U.S Department of War began a major restoration of the badly deteriorated fort. By 1924, three vertical fissures in the wall were repaired and the structure was stabilized in the same year, National Monument status was proclaimed. Fort Matanzas was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. As a historic area under the Park Service, the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

The Fort Matanzas National Monument Headquarters and Visitor Center were added separately to the National Register on December 31, 2008, as significant works of National Park Service architectural design.

Fort Matanzas Fort Matanzas
bird by Fort Matanzas
bird by Fort Matanzas

After climbing up a few regular stone steps, Lee Duquette reached the first deck of the fort. Inside the building, there is a steep ladder and a narrow hole leading to the upper deck.

Lee Duquette at Fort Matanzas
a steep ladder

Stuff inside Fort Matanzas

Stuff inside Fort Matanzas
Stuff inside Fort Matanzas
Stuff inside Fort Matanzas
Stuff inside Fort Matanzas
the office

Karen Duquette took a photo of Lee Duquette , who was checking out the grounds and photographing Karen who was on the deck of Fort Matanzas.

Lee Duquette and the tower
the tower
Karen Duquette and the tower
Karen Duquette and the tower
Karen's hand and the tower
Karen Duquette

Panorama of The Matanzas River and the Visitor Center

Panorama of Tje Matanzas River and the Visitor Center
Panorama of Tje Matanzas River and the Visitor Center
The Matanzas River and the Visitor Center
Lee Duquette
the boat
a fisherman

Lee Duquette was the first person ready for the return boat ride to the Visitor Center.

Lee Duquette
Lee Duquette
the two RV Gupsies on the boat
Karen Duquette saying bye bye to Fort Matanzas
Menu for the two RV Gypsies in St. Augustine, Florida
and surrounding areas
October 25, 2014
You may visit these 3 sections in any order you choose.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

Fort Matanzas (this page)

St. Augustine Sculpture Garden at Lakeside Park

look below

AFTER you have seen the above three sections, enjoy a FLASHBACK to 2007 in St. Augustine (2 pages) when the two RV Gypsies' son, Brian Duquette joined them on their very first RV road tip to Castillo De San Marcos National Monument and Fort. A Link at the bottom of the second page will bring you back here, then you can continue on in 2014 with the link BELOW..


If you want to continue the 2014 trip, return to the main menu for Jacksonville, Mayo and other nearby Florida areas in 2014.