Almost 70 miles west of Key West, FL lies a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas. With the surrounding shoals and water, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park, an area noted for bird and marine life and shipwrecks. Fort Jefferson, Its central cultural feature, is one of the nation’s largest 1800s masonry forts.
The Dry Tortugas has been on my bucket list for decades. Not only was I surrounded by a vast expanse of sea, sky, sandy beaches, and coral reef, but I stepped into a park rich in history including a 19th century fort, The Civil War, and its most famous prisoner, Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was imprisoned for his involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
What stayed with me after the tour, is that this massive six-sided building constructed of 16 million handmade red bricks was designed to be a massive gun platform, impervious to assault, and able to destroy any enemy ships foolhardy enough to come within range of its powerful guns. And, they never shot at an enemy in the whole time it was active.
And some nature shots