With the weather heating up once again, the Ship Island Ferry has started running day trips every week Wednesday through Saturday.
There is plenty of fun and history to explore on Ship Island with thousands of visitors taking the trip each year. One of the biggest attractions is Fort Massachusetts on the island’s east beach.
Author, presenter, and Third System forts expert John Weaver recently visited Davis Bayou Park at the Gulf Islands National Seashore to discuss Fort Massachusetts’ impact on American history.
In his presentation, which attracted a hefty audience of park rangers, volunteers, history buffs, and locals, Weaver shared the following facts:
- Fort Massachusetts was used to protect New Orleans from naval attacks following its construction in 1859. It remained in use until 1903.
- Fort Massachusetts was built with two different colors of bricks, sparking speculation among some. However, Weaver revealed that the two different colors were more so due to supply troubles and little to do with aesthetics.
- Fort Massachusetts is the smallest of the forts built during this time in the U.S., known as Third System forts.
- The shape of Fort Massachusetts is known as a Truncated Circle.
- When you visit Fort Massachusetts, you can see one of the training two Rodman cannons originally installed. These cannons were 360-degree barbettes, so they could easily target approaching ships.
- Fort Massachusetts is one of five forts built with the intention of protecting New Orleans. Its placement was strategic as it is on the way to the New Orleans channel and provided deep water for anchoring.
Even if you missed Weaver’s lecture, you can still go learn about Fort Massachusetts by visiting in-person. Tickets and schedules for the Ship Island Ferry can be found here.