Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fort Christmas walkaround

     I recently had the opportunity to visit central Florida, of course I had to find some form of history nearby. Happily I found Fort Christmas (no, it is not where Santa Claus spends his summers). Built, starting on Christmas Day, in 1837 by a force of 2000 Army soldiers and Alabama Volunteers it served as a fortified supply depot during the Second Seminole War. The fort was abandoned in 1838 as operations had moved on and supplies were able to be moved by water.

     The replica fort was reconstructed in 1977 by Orange County as  part of their parks system and has a collection of original building that have been relocated to the park that demonstrate farming and civic life following the war. The fort contains a museum in the (very well air-conditioned) blockhouses.

the fort as Google Earth sees it

and the fort with the trees edited out

the northwest corner, looking east

looking southeast at the northwest corner

then I moved to get both blockhouses in view

the southwest blockhouse

the western wall looking northeast

the southwest blockhouse, looking straight east
the gunports are tiny, ventilation in the stifling Florida heat must have been problematic!

the inevitable, and informative, Historical Marker

the southwest bastion, looking north
at the time of it's building the area around the fort would have been cut bare of trees,
so that nicely landscaped Live Oak would not have obstructed the view

the southeast corner, looking north

same spot, looking northwest

and a bit further west

the gate, I don't know if the soldiers gave the fort such a nice sign over the entry,
 but I like to think they did

informational sign

just inside the gate, looking east

counter-clockwise around the yard,  the storehouse and flagpole

the small sturdy building is the magazine

musket slots were cut between the logs of the palisade,
thus the walkway did not need to be very high

interior detail of the southwest blockhouse, notice the way
that the wider upper story was cantilevered out over the lower story

inner gate detail

another look at the magazine, the heat and humidity of central Florida (the Spanish named it very accurately) combined with the very high water table must have made keeping powder dry a formidable task

the museum in the southwest blockhouse covers the history of the Seminole Wars
 and  provides a background to Seminole culture

I love models

especially really nice ones

some very well executed figures that were nearly impossible to photograph due the the glass case....

a good map, in another glass case......

these were displayed on the walls but I really doubt that the soldiers
 dressed that way while serving in the crushing heat of central Florida

recovered artifacts

more uniform prints, no explanations to go with them, looking delightfully Napoleonic

guns, I love old guns

even if some of them are only slightly older than myself

items of Seminole dress

the canoe was almost impossible to photograph due to the lighting

Seminole artifacts

a nice study of a Seminole home

a display of dressed mannequins, left to right, a Dragoon, and infantryman and a Seminole 

there were pictures of Seminole leaders,
 I resorted to snapping pictures at an oblique angle to avoid reflections

I was struck by the similarities to the Native cultures of the American southwest, 
the colors and patterns, and wondered at how much cross-cultural influences
 there had been before the European arrival

did I say that I love models?

Seminole clothing

the warrior tradition was clearly untouched by the passage of time

a musket port between the logs

rather narrow filed of fire

a view down the walkway

given the shallow water table if they had dug much deeper they would have had a well

the southwest blockhouse from the center of the yard

the storehouse 

the storehouse serves as a museum of early 19th century farming tools

another nice map

an early flat-bottomed paddle-wheeler

did I mention that I love models?

from a wargamer's point of view this model is in 20mm size

now that is a uniform I will believe

more magazine

the corner of the storehouse, A.D.A. compliant access 
ramps mean that there are a lot of walkways that probably weren't here historically

the northeast blockhouse from the yard

the back of the storehouse

view through a ground-level musket port

they probably weren't glazed historically,but I'm fine with that because it held the A/C in

cattle ranching was the early mainstay of Florida's economy,
before oranges and tourism

view out of an upper-story musket port

the blockhouses were expected to continue the fight even if the walls were crossed,
 gun ports covered the entire interior

     The fort is run by Orange County Parks and is located at 1300 N. Fort Christmas Road, Christmas Florida 32709. Phone; (407) 254-9312. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-4pm, closed on Mondays and most holidays it is about a half hour drive from Orlando, so if you want a break from the cash-sucking theme parks and would like a quiet moment in the countryside pay it a visit!


  1. What a cool place...get sharpening those barbecue skewers!

    1. This got me thinking of doing a small collection for the Second Seminole War in 28mm for Rebels&Patriots. It wouldn't take long at all to build the fort.

  2. Oh wow, what a great place to visit!!

  3. Great pictures. looks like a small fort. The minnies are interesting as there from the civil war era.

    1. It is tiny compared to Fort Meigs or the Castillo de San Marcos and would leave a lot of table open even if built at 1/50th scale.