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July 15, 2004

Gibraltar of the Gulf

Fort Jefferson, the largest Civil War-era coastal fort in the United States, is reported to need $18 million in restoration by 2010 to prevent it crumbling apart.

The 158-year-old fortress is located on a tiny island 68 miles (110 km) west of Key West in the Florida Keys and is part of the 23-acre (9-hectare) Garden Key atoll in the Dry Tortugas National Park, a cluster of seven low-lying islands.

The fort "is the Stealth Bomber of its age. The ultimate goal was deterrence," said park ranger Mike Ryan on a recent tour of the nation's largest masonry fort, built of 16 million hand-made, sun-aged red bricks.

My favourite feature of Fort Jefferson is the "moat" created by its seawall. A neat trick considering the fortress is some way out to sea. I am astonished there is anything left of the structure given the stresses it must by under.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 15, 2004 08:30 AM

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