We’re looking out over the moat at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park. This most beautiful park is about 100 miles out to sea from Key West, Florida. People often snorkel outside the moat in that gorgeous so-many-shades-of-blue sea.
Fort Jefferson was built between 1846-1875, but was never finished nor fully armed. It was built to protect one of the most strategic deepwater anchorages in North America. By fortifying this spacious harbor, the United States maintained an important “advance post” for ships patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. The harbor offered ships the chance to resupply, refit, or seek refuge from storms. From here they could launch an attack virtually anywhere along the Gulf Coast.
The fort was also used as a prison, mainly for Union deserters. Its most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Boothe.
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