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FORT CLINCH: Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park offers spectacular north Florida ocean views and a Civil War era fort. Page 1.
The park service has brought the empty rooms of the fort alive with furnishings and artifacts appropriate to the era when the fort was constructed.
As you explore your way from building to building, and room to room, you are reminded that real people went about their real lives in these spaces for years as fort construction raced against advances in military science.
Although the rooms are tidier and cleaner than I suspect they were during the 1860's you nonetheless get an intriguing feel for the time as you encounter the implements of daily life in a Civil War era fort.
A small group of noisy soldiers sit in front of the fireplace and tell each other colorful stories from home as they eat a simple meal on a wooden table.
In another room, a handful of dirty young bricklayers pull blankets up to their noses in bunk beds. A restless young man, not long ago a boy, stays up late in a dimly lit side alcove writing his mother the simple yet eloquent kind of letter we modern Americans have long since forgotten how to pen.
Each of these healthy young men grew old and tired in time, and all have long since left us. But the pointless walls of brick they assembled remain, and within them, some of the spirit of these 19th century builders is preserved.
We didn't have any children along to teach us how to properly enjoy an abandoned military base, but our cameras eagerly led us on an expedition through the maze of interesting spaces and lights we found within the fort.
Long dark oval topped brick tunnels exploded in to odd shaped 2 story rooms where the floors were splashed with spotlights of natural light emanating from cathedral-like windows. Foot wide slits in the thick brick walls, designed to hide sharpshooters as they fired down upon invaders, threw focused narrow beams of sun back in to the room in reply.
Tightly twisting circular staircases wound steeply out of the cave like interiors of the fort into 360 degrees of cloud free blue sky where the Florida sun beamed brightly down upon a circle of cannon laden ramparts.
Exploring the nooks and crannies of the fort is just plain fun and as I followed my camera lens from room to room I discovered a 10 year old boy still happily sneaking around inside this 50 year old body.
The boy in me grew up to find a wise and wonderful wife. She brought us home from this trip back in time by reminding me that as interesting as 150 year old human made military fortifications might be, the timeless and boundless grandeur of the natural world is more impressive yet.
It's time to go to the beach in other words.
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