America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Fort Caroline

Battle of Fort Caroline, Florida

The Spanish were mad. They had planned on becoming the predominant force in the colonization of Florida after the expeditions of Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto, plus lands north of it, with failed efforts at Charlesfort, South Carolina, and Pensacola, northern Florida, then the establishment of St. Augustine in 1565. Problem was, the French had the same idea, and had started a colony in Timucua territory just north of St. Augustine in the area around today's Jacksonville, Fort Caroline, one year earlier on June 30, 1564. That would not do. The Spanish could not accept French Huguenots, Protestants no less, nearby. So twelve days after the Spanish had their colony started at St. Augustine, they traveled north, and attacked. Spoiler alert. The colony of Fort Caroline was destroyed. Image above: Interior of Fort Caroline. Courtesy National Park Service/Rick Rasmussen.



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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Fort Caroline

Battle of Fort Caroline, Florida

On September 20, 1565, Spanish soldiers under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés attacked the French colony. Prior to arriving at St. Augustine, he had not known of its existence, but took swift action, traveling the thirty miles north with five hundred men. Its not that the French under their leaders René Goulaine de Laudonniére and Jean Ribault, were okay with the Spanish that close either. Jean Ribault had sailed south with six hundred sailors and soldiers, against the wishes of Laudonniére, to find St. Augustine and potentially do something about it, but the ships had been hit by a storm. Hundreds of men were lost; the others shipwrecked to the south, now unable to defend Fort Caroline, except for the few soldiers left behind with Laudonniére, when the Spanish arrived.

Today, the Fort Caroline National Memorial stands to commemorate the French colony and the battle. It is part of the larger Timucuan National Park and Preserve.

Image above: Engraving of Fort Caroline, 1591, painting by Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, engraving by Theodore de Bry. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Below: Montage of (left) Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, 1791, Francisco de Paula Marti. Courtesy Library of Congress; and (right) René Goulaine de Laudonniére, Crispijn van de Passe the Elder. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons via Bibliothéque Nationale de France.


Fort Niagara during French and Indian War


Where Is It

Fort Caroline is located at 12713 Fort Caroline Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32225. The Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center is located at the Fort Caroline Memorial site. The site is in the southwest part of the park, adjacent to the Theodore Roosevelt Area of the park and along the St. John's River. Downtown Jacksonville is to the west of the park. Access to the park is by car or the St. John's River Ferry.


What is There Now


At the Fort Caroline section of Timucuan, there's the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center, with exhibits, orientation, and more, plus the small, reconstructed Fort Caroline, Ribault Monument, nature trails, and waysides. It is situated on one hundred and thirty-eight acres, but Timucuan itself has thousands of acres to explore, including the Kingsley Plantation and the Spanish Pond. There's a picnic pavilion at the Visitor Center.

Within Timucuan, there are two public camping areas at Little Talbot Island State Park and Huguenot Memorial Park.

When Open and How Much

Fort Caroline Memorial and the Timucuan National Park and Preserve are fee free areas. The park is open year round, with exceptions for Major Holidays. Some areas of the park are only open Wednesday to Sunday, including Fort Caroline. Check the park website for any changes in that schedule before you go.

Fees subject to change.

Websites
Fort Caroline National Memorial
Timucuan National Park and Preserve


History Nearby

The area of Fort Caroline, in northern Florida, is near many unique historic, and other, tourist sites. Yes, you're technically part of Timucuan National Park and Preserve, but you are also only thirty miles from St. Augustine. Not too much farther south from there, one hundred and fifty miles or so, and you have the Canaveral sites of Cape Canaveral for the space fan, and Canaveral National Seashore, for the beach crowd.


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