Fort De Soto Park

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On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, heralding the beginning of the Spanish-American War. Fort De Soto, on Mullet Key, was commissioned to help defend the sea approach to Tampa Bay, Florida. The fort’s main defensive feature was a grouping of eight 12-inch-bore mortars, each capable of dropping a half-ton projectile on enemy ships miles away; four of these historic mortars are still in place. In 1948, the fort’s 884 acres were sold to Pinellas County, which had long coveted the land for a park. On May 11, 1963, the celebration for the grand opening of Fort De Soto Park featured appearances from Henry Fonda, Guy Lombardo, and Miss Florida. Thousands showed up for the opening ceremonies and were excited to explore everything the new park had to offer. These days, well over two and a half million people visit the park each year to enjoy its top-rated beaches and outdoor activities.
ISBN: 9781467107525
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
State: Florida
Series: Images of America
Images: 214
Pages: 128
Dimensions: 6.5 (w) x 9.25 (h)
Terry Nelson, a former educator and member of the Friends of Fort De Soto, explores the history of Fort De Soto using vintage photographs from the park’s archives. Nelson also provides fascinating images highlighting the park’s gala grand opening. Images from the Florida State Archives, the University of South Florida, the Pinellas County Heritage Village, and other sources add to the stories of the fort and the amazing park that grew from it.
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