Flags flying in the wind are one of the first things you notice when you visit San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park. All of the colors fly to represent the many different countries that once held an occupying force in the area. The first explorers were the Spanish. The Spanish from nearby St. Augustine began construction of a fortification in 1528. Over 300 men came and left, leaving little more than a primitive camp spot.
It wasn’t until 1679 until the first true fortification would be built. The Spanish Florida governor named Panfilo de Narvaez was commissioned to build the first fortification. By 1718, a second fortification was under construction. It was replaced by an even stronger stone fortification in 1739.
Years later the fort would be occupied by General Andrew Jackson in 1818 during the First Seminole War, the only war ever lost by U.S. Army soldiers on American soil. After his brief stay, he returned control of the fort to the Spanish.
After Florida’s purchase from the Spanish, it was occupied by American soldiers. By the time the Civil War rolled around, the fort came under Confederate control in 1861.
With so many years of occupation, archeologists have found a treasure trove of historic artifacts. A museum built on top of the ruins of the Civil War era hospital serves visitors with information about the history of the park. It also houses many of the artifacts found in and around the fort ruins.
There isn’t much left of the original fort. A stone foundation is all that remains of the Spanish fort. A series of raised embankments still remain of the Civil War firing positions raised above the nearby St. Marks River. Stairs lead to the top of the gun embattlement allows guests of the park a scenic view of the river and surrounding landscape.
A self guided trail winds its way around the park grounds that explores the inner habitat of this amazing Florida forest. Strap on your hiking boots, fill up your water bottle and bring your insect repellent when hiking this great trail.
Once you’ve explored the grounds around the park, stop in to one of the many picnic tables and enjoy a picnic lunch on these historic grounds. Grills are available for your favorite cooked foods. So come on down to San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park and cook a few hotdogs and hamburgers after a perfect family outing at this historic state park and museum.
You can find out more about this fantastic Florida state park by visiting the official website here. Directions to the park, fees and hours of operation information can all be found at the above link.