The Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site, 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-1800s plan to defend the southeast coast through a series of forts. The fort was named for United States PresidentZachary Taylor in 1850, a few months after President Taylor's sudden death in office. Yellow feverepidemics and material shortages slowed construction of the fort, which continued throughout the 1850s. At the outset of the U.S. Civil War in 1861, Union Captain John Milton Brannan seized control of the fort, preventing it from falling into Confederate hands and using it as an outpost to threaten blockade runners. Originally, the fort was surrounded by water on all sides, with a walkway linking it to the mainland. The fort was completed in 1866, although the upper level of one side was destroyed in 1889 to make way for more modern weapons, with the older cannons being buried within the new outer wall to save on materials. The fort was heavily used again during the 1898 Spanish-American War.
In 1947, the fort, no longer of use to the Army, was turned over to the U.S. Navy for maintenance. In 1968 volunteers led by Howard S. England excavated Civil War guns and ammunition buried in long-abandoned parts of the fort, which was soon discovered to house the nation's largest collection of Civil War cannons. Fort Taylor was therefore placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Due to the filling in of land around the fort, including the creation of an attractive stretch of beach, the park now occupies 87 acres (352,000 m²).
The Fort's land that is closer to downtown Key West became part of the Truman Annex to Naval Station Key West, which is about three miles to the northwest. The Annex was originally called the "Fort Zachary Taylor Annex" and it included a submarine base.
President Harry S. Truman used it for his Winter White House for 175 days in 11 visits. The Secret Service had a private beach built on the land for the president's security, but he reportedly only visited it once, preferring the public beaches. The beach name is called "Truman Beach" The fort and its related support buildings was later renamed for Truman.
The Annex was decommissioned in 1974 because the U.S. Navy had decommissioned nearly all of their diesel-electric submarines and contemporary nuclear powered submarines were too big for the existing port. The then-former Naval Station served as the landing point for many during the 1980 Mariel boatlift of Cuban refugees. Most of the buildings in the Annex were sold to private developers although there's a museum for the Truman White House and the Navy continues to own and maintain the piers and a portion of the Naval Station property to the south of Fort Taylor, primarily in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - East and the Naval Security Group Activity.
In addition to the role of the fort and its adjacent beach as tourist attractions, Fort Taylor is also the location of a number of annual events, including week-long Civil War reenactments. On the weekend preceding Halloween, it is transformed into a haunted fort, much like a haunted house but on a grand scale and with a distinctive Civil War theme.
Biscayne National Park •Dry Tortugas National Park •Everglades National Park
National Monuments and Memorials
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument •Fort Matanzas National Monument •De Soto National Memorial •Fort Caroline National Memorial
Apalachicola •Choctawhatchee •Ocala •Osceola
National Wildlife Refuges
Archie Carr • Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee • Caloosahatchee • Cedar Keys • Chassahowitzka • Crocodile Lake • Crystal River • Egmont Key • Florida Panther • Great White Heron • Hobe Sound • Island Bay • J.N. 'Ding' Darling • Key West • Lake Wales Ridge • Lake Woodruff • Lower Suwannee • Matlacha Pass • Merritt Island • National Key Deer • Okefenokee • Passage Key • Pelican Island • Pine Island • Pinellas • St. Johns • St. Marks • St. Vincent • Ten Thousand Islands
Other National Protected Areas
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary •Big Cypress National Preserve •Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve • Canaveral National Seashore •Gulf Islands National Seashore • Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve •Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve •Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Amelia Island •Anastasia •Avalon •Bahia Honda •Bald Point •Big Lagoon •Big Talbot Island •Bill Baggs Cape Florida •Bulow Creek •Caladesi Island •Camp Helen •Cayo Costa •Collier-Seminole •Curry Hammock •Delnor-Wiggins Pass •Devil's Millhopper •Don Pedro Island •Eden Gardens •Egmont Key •Falling Waters •Faver-Dykes •Florida Caverns •Fort Clinch •Fort Cooper •Fort George Island •Fort Pierce Inlet •Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou •Gasparilla Island •George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier •Highlands Hammock •Hontoon Island •Hugh Taylor Birch •John D. MacArthur Beach •John Pennekamp Coral Reef •John U. Lloyd Beach •Jonathan Dickinson •Little Talbot Island •Long Key •Lovers Key / Carl E. Johnson •Mike Roess Gold Head Branch •Navarre Beach •North Peninsula •O'Leno •Oscar Scherer •Ravine Gardens •River Bluff Picnic Site •Sebastian Inlet •Skyway Fishing Pier •St. George Island •St. Joseph Peninsula •Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center •Stump Pass Beach •Tomoka •Torreya •Windley Key Fossil Reef
Botanical Garden Parks
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens •Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock •Lignumvitae Key •Washington Oaks State Gardens
Lakes, Rivers and Springs Parks
Deer Lake •Lake Griffin •Lake June in Winter Scrub •Lake Kissimmee •Lake Louisa •Lake Manatee •Lake Talquin •Alafia River •Blackwater River •Econfina River •Guana River •Hillsborough River •Little Manatee River •Myakka River •Ochlockonee River •Silver River •Suwannee River •Blue Spring •De Leon Springs •Edward Ball Wakulla Springs •Fanning Springs •Homosassa Springs Wildlife •Ichetucknee Springs •Lafayette Blue Springs •Madison Blue Springs •Manatee Springs •Peacock Springs •Rainbow Springs •Troy Springs •Weeki Wachee Springs •Wekiwa Springs •Werner-Boyce Salt Springs
Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek •Dead Lakes •Dunns Creek •Gamble Rogers Memorial •Grayton Beach •Henderson Beach •Honeymoon Island •Oleta River •Perdido Key •Ponce de Leon Springs •St. Andrews •Three Rivers
Museums, Historic sites, and Archaeological sites
Cedar Key Museum •Constitution Convention Museum •Forest Capital Museum •John Gorrie State Museum •Ybor City Museum •The Barnacle •Bulow Plantation Ruins •Dade Battlefield •DeSoto Site •Dudley Farm •Fort Foster •Fort Mose •Fort Zachary Taylor •Gamble Plantation •Indian Key •Koreshan •Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Homestead •Natural Bridge Battlefield •Olustee Battlefield •Orman House •Paynes Creek •San Marcos de Apalache •Yellow Bluff Fort •Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins •Crystal River •Lake Jackson Mounds •Letchworth Mounds •Madira Bickel Mound •Mound Key •San Pedro Underwater
Preserves and Reserves
Anclote Key •Cedar Key Scrub •Charlotte Harbor •Crystal River •Estero Bay •Fakahatchee Strand •Grassy Lake •Hal Scott •Kissimmee Prairie •Lower Wekiva River •Paynes Prairie •Pumpkin Hill Creek •River Rise •Rock Springs Run •San Felasco Hammock •Savannas •Seabranch •St. Lucie Inlet •St. Sebastian River •Tarkiln Bayou •Topsail Hill •Tosohatchee •Waccasassa Bay •Yellow River Marsh
Gainesville-Hawthorne •General James A. Van Fleet •Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail •Withlacoochee
Belmore •Big Shoals Public Lands •Blackwater River •Carl Duval Moore •Cary •Cottage Hill •Deep Creek •Etoniah Creek •Four Creeks •Goethe •Holopaw •Indian Lake •Jennings •John Bethea •Lake George •Lake Talquin •Lake Wales Ridge •Little Big Econ •Matanzas •Myakka •Okaloacoochee Slough •Picayune Strand •Pine Log •Point Washington •Ralph E. Simmons Memorial •Ross Prairie •Seminole •Tate's Hell •Tiger Bay •Twin Rivers •Wakulla •Watson Island •Welaka •Withlacoochee