Ok so me and the family recently went on a trip. We promised Justin, my stepson, a trip to Ship Island for his 16th birthday, which was on May 22nd. We are just now getting to it! Been busy…
I had been their when I was younger many times and enjoyed it. Best I can remember I had been in 1978, 1988, 1998, and now in 2008. Every ten years purely a coiencidence.
I wanted for my family to experience this great place before another hurricane like Katrina comes through and possibly wash it away forever. As you will see in this picture, the top is after Katrina, the bottom is before. See how it almost wiped it out?
Ship Island is the collective name for two barrier islands off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore: East Ship Island and West Ship Island. Hurricane Camille split the once single island into 2 separate islands in 1969.
Having the only deep-water harbor between Mobile Bay and the Mississippi River, the island served as a vital anchorage for ships bearing explorers, colonists, sailors, soldiers, defenders and invaders.
In 1858, Mississippi passed legislation that gave jurisdiction over the island to the United States government. After the war, Congress approved an ambitious plan to construct state-of-the-art masonry fortifications at strategic locations along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including Ship Island.
Construction of Fort Massachusetts began in 1859, but was halted due to the Civil War, when the island also became a prison for Confederate P.O.W.’s, and a base for the U.S. Second Regiment (Louisiana Native Guards led by Colonel Nathan W. Daniels), one of the first African-American combat units to fight in the Civil War. On July 9th, 1861, a twenty-minute cannon exchange between Confederates on the island and the USS Massachusetts took place and in 1862 the fort was named Fort Massachusetts in honor of the Union warship. The fort was finally completed in 1866. You can read more about the history of this fort here at wikipedia
The Fort is simply awesome to behold. I really do not know where to begin to talk about all the cool things their is to tell about it but I will try.
One of the first things you migh notice about it is that it has two colors of brick on the outside. This is because during construction, they were getting the brick from up north, then when the civil war started, they didn’t order from up north anymore and didnt find a brick that matched.
One of the really neat things is that around the top of the fort, there is grass hills and a gutter system that catches the rain water and brings it all down to a central location within the fort for all the soldiers to drink.
One more interesting note is that there is a 50,000 pound cannon still there on one of the top sides of the fort. It was lifted atop the fort and sat in place by soliders using block and tackle. Imagine that.
There are many stories as to why there is only one left there. The one that sticks in my mind the most is the one that said there was a guy that purchased all the cannons for scrap metal and he used dynamite to blow them up to remove them. Well he got them all but the last one thats still there and there are fragments of the one that was once next to it. What had happend was while he was blowing them up, one piece during one of the explosions hit the lighthouse or a house near the light house and all was halted at this point. After that I think a historical society stepped in and took control of the property.
The 40 minute tour of the fort was very cool and informative, then we hit the beach for an entire day. While Mel laid on the beach and read a book, Justin and I trolled the beach, walking for what seemed like miles.
We saw lots of jellyfish, crabs, land crabs, and stingrays. We even caught several landcrabs and let me tell ya those are not super easy to catch!
At around 5pm its time to load up on the ferry again and head back, and so we did, sunburns and all.
Enjoy the photos.