Construction of Fort Pickens was begun in 1829 shortly after Florida became U.S. territory. It was completed in 1834. It was part of the United State's comprehensive "Third System" of coastal defenses.
Construction of these Third System forts began in 1816 with most being complete before the Civil War. These were large masonry forts that were to be constructed along the nation's coastline to protect important harbors, cities, interior waterways, and navy yards from seaborne attack.
Fort Pickens was part of the defenses of Pensacola at the outbreak of the Civil War along with Fort Barrancas and Fort McRae. U.S. troops abandoned Barrancas and McRae early in 1861 but occupied Pickens for the duration of the Civil War. One of the first battles of the Civil War in Florida, the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, resulted from a Confederate attempt to capture Fort Pickens. Union forces were victorious and retained control of Fort Pickens.
The fort is open daily for self guided tours from 8:00 AM until sundown. The visitor center at Fort Pickens is open November through February between 8:30 AM and 3:45 PM and March through October between 9:30 AM and 4:45 PM. Admission to the Fort Pickens area is $8 per vehicle.
The Florida Public Archaeology Network is dedicated to the protection of cultural resources, both on land and underwater, and to involving the public in the study of their past.
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