Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day in Floridian Nature

Take time on Memorial Day week-end to explore some of the history of Florida. Fort Foster Historic site is located in the Hillsborough River State Park and is steeped in history and natural beauty. The natural scenic beauty of the park is astounding and many trails offer the visitor the opportunity to experience this first hand.

Fort Foster may be visited only by one of the tours leaving hourly on week ends from adjacent Hillsborough State Park. A quarter mile trip by van from the park's visitor center takes you to a shelter 900 feet from the site. From there you will continue on foot along the old Fort King Military Road to the fort. Rangers, in the uniforms of those 2nd artillery soldiers who manned the fort in 1837, explain the events of that time and the life of the artillerymen posted there. Hillsborough River State Park also offers 112 campsites, picnic areas, pavilions and the Spirit of the Woods Pool Side Café and Gift Shop. A swimming pool with a capacity of 216 swimmers is also within the park. From an afternoon picnic, an all day family reunion, an extended stay by overnight camping or a corporate gathering, Hillsborough River State Park provides an exceptional setting in a natural environment for folks to relax and reconnect with family, friends and colleagues.
Another Florida spot steeped in history is Natural Bridge Battlefield State Historic Site in Leon County. Natural Bridge is the site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida and where the St. Marks River drops into a sinkhole and flows underground for one-quarter of a mile before reemerging.

This site illustrates the crucial role the lay of the land can play in military strategy. In early March of 1865, Union General John Newton and naval Commander William Gibson mounted a two pronged advance toward Tallahassee. Newton landed his troops and headed north, but Gibson's gunboats ran aground in the St. Marks river. When word reached Tallahassee, the limited Confederate forces were quickly reinforced with volunteers. Some volunteers were recuperating veterans, while others were men as old as seventy and boys as young as fourteen.

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