A visit to Fort Clinch State Park ranks as a favorite among Williams House guests. Some enjoy the rich history and uniformed period focused soldiers that relay the fort’s history and what it was like to be stationed there. Some enjoy the views toward the sound and Cumberland Island. Others enjoy the tunnels and rooms used for various tasks during the fort’s use. Others enjoy the nature trails, beach access and fishing pier. Whatever your interests, Fort Clinch is a proven attraction not to be missed.
Fort Clinch History
Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island is named for General Lamont Clinch, a prominent figure in the Second Seminole War. Construction began in 1847 and is part of the series of masonry forts built between 1816 and 1867 for coastal defense known as the Third System Fortifications. It was built at the mouth of the St. Mary’s river which divides Florida and Georgia. It was designed to protect the important natural deep water port of Fernandina Beach and the eastern link of the cross Florida railway that linked Fernandina Beach and Cedar Key. Never completed before the civil war, an engineering company based at the fort during the war did much of the construction with imported (from New York) red brick. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began restoration in 1936 and began building roads and campgrounds. The concession building was built as part of the CCC restoration/expansion and was part of the original structure acquired by the state of Florida in 1935. It opened as one of the first Florida state parks in 1938. With three miles of coastline and several groin jetties it offers great saltwater fishing and has been a popular spot since its early years.
Living history interpretation began at Fort Clinch during the 1970s. Staff and volunteers in period civil war uniforms depict daily life at the fort thereby recreating a step back into history for visitors. In the summer months soldiers encamp at the fort on weekends (first of each month) to further expose what life was like during its history. There is also a blacksmith shop that operates making typical iron products used during the period. For more information visit www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch.