Coasting: Glimpses of Civil War life make for fun at Fort Clinch

Wall at Fort Clinch

Looking down one of the walls at Fort Clinch at Fernandina Beach

As we said in our last post, we just didn’t have enough time on Amelia Island.  After viewing two other forts (Fort Frederica at St. Simons and Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine), we knew we couldn’t leave without seeing Fort Clinch.

Fort Clinch, located within Fort Clinch State Park  in Fernandina Beach, Florida, had the potential for being “just another fort.”  But it wasn’t.  Billed as “a historic fort surrounded by alluring beaches,” Fort Clinch deserves a higher billing since “soldiers” make the difference.  That’s right.  Soldiers.  As in people who dress up and perform everyday operations on Fort Garrison Weekends when we, quite by accident, arrived.  (See post on the soldier who locked Bert up in “prison”!)

Re-enactors at Fort Clinch

People made the difference at Fort Clinch — knowledgeable, affable, engaging.

The people made the difference.  As they strolled the grounds, chatted with visitors, and explained the functions of various rooms, history came to life.

Buildings and battlements at Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island

Buildings and battlements at Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island

Named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, Fort Clinch began in 1847, one of a series of masonry forts known as the Third System Fortifications.  Its purpose:  to protect Fernandina’s natural deep-water port.  Although it was never completed, Fort Clinch served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II.

But what we liked doing (other than being amused by the tales told to us by the “soldiers”) was just walking the battlements, looking at the architecture and cannons and openings, and pointing out wildlife in the fort’s park-like setting.

Tunnel walkway, Fort Clinch, Amelia Island

Tunnel walkway, Fort Clinch, Amelia Island

The folks at Fort Clinch make it easy for tourists to travel back in time:  Hours are 8 AM until sunset, 365 days a year.  But if you want to talk to a “soldier” (who may never get out of character) and relive the Civil War experience, be sure to go on a reenactment weekend.  It’s a trip!

For more information:

Fort Clinch State Park, 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, Florida; 904-277-7274;

For more posts in our Coasting series, click here.  We hope you enjoy the Georgia and Florida coastal attractions as much as we did!

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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10 Responses to Coasting: Glimpses of Civil War life make for fun at Fort Clinch

  1. yprior1 says:

    I love the different shot s-0 and the ending ” It’s a trip!” ha – have not heard that in a while – and so now I will hit it….

  2. Amy says:

    A wonderful way to preserve our great history!

    • Amy, you are so right. I didn’t like visiting forts and such when we were first married, but my husband loves historical markers, forts, battlefields, etc. So, I’ve come to appreciate them not just for the original purposes but also for the architecture, arrangements, etc. Thanks for reading, as always!

  3. Docents are always great in sharing both knowledge and passion. Hats off to them. –Curt

    • You’re so right about hats off to them — they give of their time to help us understand the past. And I guess they are docents. I probably should have called them that. They didn’t lead tours, but they were on hand to discuss anything. What impressed me about the people at this fort was their humor. It truly was a pleasure to stand and talk with several of them.

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