Fort Zachary Taylor

Key West, United States

Fort Zachary Taylor

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The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, better known simply as Fort Taylor (or Fort Zach to locals), is a Florida State Park and National Historic Landmark centered on a Civil War-era fort located near the southern tip of Key West, Florida.

Construction of the fort began in 1845 as part of a mid-19th century plan to defend the southeast coast through a series of forts after the War of 1812. Thompson Island, at the southwest tip of Key West, was selected as the site for the fort in 1822 and plans drawn up by Simon Bernard and Joseph G. Totten were approved in 1836. Two supporting batteries, Martello Towers, provided additional coverage, one of which exists today as the Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum. The fort was named for United States President Zachary Taylor in November 1850, a few months after his sudden death in office. The fort's foundation consists of oolitic limestone and New England granite. Its five-foot thick walls rose 50 feet above mean low water and included two tiers of casemates with a terreplein or barbette at the top. Three seaward curtains 495 feet between bastions, each containing 42 guns on three levels, were augmented by a land-facing gorge. Troop barracks were built into this gorge with a capacity for 800 men. At either end of the barracks was a large gunpowder magazine while a sally port was located in the center, connected to land by a 1200-foot causeway. Rainwater was collected in underground cisterns along the perimeter of the fort. Yellow fever epidemics and material shortages slowed construction of the fort, which continued throughout the 1850s. The Pensacola firm of Raiford and Abercrombie provided bricks for Fort Zachary Taylor and Fort Jefferson, which was under construction at the same time.




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