The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, is usually simply referred to as “the fort” by locals. It’s actually the oldest masonry fort in the continental USA and well worth a visit.
The fort was built by the Spanish, who ruled Florida at the time, on the shore of the Matanzas Bay in 1672. At this point, the town of St. Augustine was already slightly over 100 years old. The fort changed ownership (Spanish, British, United States) and names a few times. An especially dark time was under United States rule when it was called Fort Marion and held many Native American prisoners, including Seminole chief Osceola and Geronimo’s band of Chiricahua Apache during the mid to late 1800s.
During that time period, Fort Marion became one of the birthplaces of Native American ledger art. They are narrative drawings and paintings on paper or cloth made by Plains Indians.
In 1924, the fort was declared a National Monument and turned over to the National Park Service in 1933. In 1942, it got its original name back: Castillo de San Marcos.
I really like the introduction written on the National Park Service’s website about the Castillo de San Marcos. So I’m taking the liberty to quote it here: “A monument not only of stone and mortar but of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos symbolizes the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. Still resonant with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America’s grim but remarkable history.”
The fort was built by workers from Havana, Cuba, and Native American laborers out of coquina (Spanish for “small shells”), which is a stone composed naturally of ancient seashells. When I post pictures of the Castillo de San Marcos on my blog, Flickr, Google+ and Facebook, I will include a close-up of the stone full of seashells.
The song in this video is “Serenity” by Jason Shaw of Audionautix. He has made many great songs available via a Creative Commons license. Thank you for all the great (free) music, Jason!
On a personal note: If you look closely, you will see Rachel, Cecil, Tessa, Michael and baby Violet on top of the fort. I had just seen them a few days prior in Gainesville, Florida, when I filmed Tessa getting her All’s Well and Fair tattoo. On this day, we met in St. Augustine to celebrate Tessa’s birthday (that day) and Cecil’s birthday (the day before). Cecil is 18 now! And he wasn’t even born when we first began filming All’s Well and Fair. Wow!