Thursday, September 27, 2012

Civil War Days at Fort Caroline

When we lived in Jacksonville, Florida, we were only a few miles from a tiny National Park Memorial which is in the corner of the wide-stretched Timucuan Preserve that also includes Kingsley Plantation, but it was almost a year before we really discovered it.  It has 2 areas for hiking- a one mile loop near the fort with nature placards and several miles across the street at the section known as Spanish Pond/Theodore Roosevelt area.  I used to run on both trails several times a week; the Spanish Pond section had a nice 2 mi path to the TR center, and taking it there and back and adding the detour up the marsh platform (which was flooded at high tide) added up to a good 4.5 mile run, plus whatever I felt like running over on the Fort side. Another trail on the Spanish side was rugged and not good for running.  The parking lot near the Roosevelt Center has bathrooms and is very easy to miss unless you know exactly where it is.  The only thing I would add is wear bug spray.  Lots of it.

If you and the kids are in to the Junior Ranger Program the Nation Park Service has, you can get a badge at Fort Caroline.  They have a nice little nature center and museum/interpretive center (with restrooms- always important to know with kids), and in October they have a Civil War Encampment to remember the Battle of St John's Bluff on October 3rd 1862.  If you are in the area, check it out.  This year (2012) it is the 20th and 21st of October and you can't beat free.  Parking is a little scarce.

It's not much compared to the encampments and re-enacting of large battlefields, but it has a cozy feel and the kids don't have to walk far.

Outside the fort they had a small gun set up.  The cannoneers were very talkative and let the kids get involved.  The first was actually operated "navy-style" by a sailor.

The others were a little less ship-shape in their hodgepodge Confederate uniforms, but they were very friendly.

Rifle training commenced behind the interpretive center.

There's also periods crafts and sewing, food, and children's games.  Don't forget the bug spray.

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