Rediscovering Fort Pulaski National Monument

May 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Your Monthly Bill

by Bill Gillespie

Every spring, I look forward to buying my annual Fort Pulaski National Monument pass for the great locals’ price of $10. What a deal! Ft. Pulaski is open all year-round. I always appreciate my time in the park and I learn something new every time I go. I am writing this article with hope that others can experience the same pleasures of discovering, or rediscovering Fort Pulaski’s great dog friendly trails, bike paths, open spaces, wildlife, birds, kayaking, the Fort and the history. Every time we go, we do something completely different. All these great things to do, and just a 5 minute drive from Tybee.

The history of the Fort is truly amazing. Prior to the Civil War, brick forts were America’s main defense against overseas enemies. This Fort was quickly seized and held by Confederate troops after the secession of the southern states. This fort would play a crucial role in defending the access to the port of Savannah. However, in one two-day battle on April 10-11, 1862, the new weapons technology proved its superiority to brick forts. The Union forces used newly rifled cannons to compel a surrender by Confederates inside Fort Pulaski, for their commander feared the Fort’s power storage room could be hit, explode, and kill everyone defending. No one ever built a brick fort again after the battle. Guided tours are offered daily, and the interpretive program includes musket firings, expanded living history programs, and cannon demonstrations.

The outdoor enthusiast will really enjoy exploring the nature trails throughout the park. Selected trails include: North Pier, Lighthouse Overlook, Historic Dike System, and McQueens Island Rails to Trails. The North Pier Trail takes you through a scenic wood, passes the remnants of early fort buildings, and ends at the shore Battery Hambright and pier. The Lighthouse Overlook Trail guides visitors along open marsh as well as a coastal vegetated environment offering great views of the Savannah River, and Tybee Island. The short trail also offers the island’s best views of the historic 19th century Cockspur Island Lighthouse. You can even walk out to the Lighthouse at low tide. The Dike System Trail shows the handy work of Lt. Robert E. Lee, who designed the dike system, which allowed for tide control and drainage, and aided the construction of Fort Pulaski. This longer trail circles the Fort, and offers visitors unparalleled views of Cockspur Island and the Savannah River. Lastly, the McQueens Island Rails to Trails located on McQueens Island at the entrance to the park is my favorite. This six-mile trail follows the path of the old Tybee rail line that once connected Savannah to the beaches of Tybee Island. The packed-gravel trail is open to bikers, runners, walkers, and is the only trail where leashed dogs are not allowed.

For nature lovers, the park supports many species of birds and wildlife. While visiting, you may catch a glimpse of one of the many protected species that have been identified at the park. Large populations of both resident and migratory birds are present. The salt marshes and upland areas of Fort Pulaski National Monument support many species of wildlife, including an abundance of White Tail Deer and Raccoons. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one of the 11 protected species that have been identified at the park. These are: American oystercatcher, bald eagle, gull-billed tern, least tern, loggerhead sea turtle, manatee, peregrine falcon, piping plover, swallow-tailed kite, Wilson’s plover and woodstork.

Don’t forget to plan your trip wisely, and wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks or lunch, plenty of insect repellent and plenty of water, especially in the summer months. Last visit my dog loved the trails and playing on the river’s edge. And what I learned on this visit of a historical nature, I hope never repeats itself – and that was that the spring 1881 storm was 23 feet above sea level totally flooded the Lighthouse!

For Tybee residents, I think the annual pass is a great deal and must have.

Again, I wish you great discoveries and rediscoveries at the Fort!

Bill

You may contact Bill Gillespie at william.gillespie@us.army.mil

For more information, please check-out the Park Service site: http://www.nps.gov/fopu/index.htm.
(3 Photos compliments of Fort Pulaski National Park)

(Photo close-up of Cockspur Lighthouse by Cynthia Kinkel, copyright 2010, The Tybee Times)

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Comments

One Response to “Rediscovering Fort Pulaski National Monument”
  1. themselves says:

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