Fort De Soto
Fort De Soto (1898-1948) - Construction of this Endicott Period fort began in fall of 1898 on Mullet Key Island, Florida. Named for Hernando de Soto on 4 Apr 1900. Declared surplus in 1928 but reused during World War II. Finally purchased by Pinellas County, Florida, 11 Aug 1948.
Endicott Period (1890-1910)
Part of the Harbor Defense of Tampa Bay.
Originally identified by Ltc. Robert E. Lee in 1849 as a strategic location for guarding Tampa Bay. Construction began in 1898 based on the survey drawn by Lee.
Two reinforced concrete Endicott Period gun batteries were completed, Battery Laidley (1900) and Battery Bigelow (1904). The fort was garrisoned between 1900 and 1922 by Coastal Artillery detachments.
On 25 May 1923 the fort was placed on standby status with a single caretaker and the remaining troops left. In 1928 the islands were first offered for sale by the U.S Government but not actually sold to anyone, both bids received were rejected. The 271 acre reservation on Mullet Key was purchased by Pinellas County, Florida, for $12,500, 29 Sep 1938.
World War II (1941-1945)
Pinellas County sold the 271 acre tract back to the U.S. Government for $18,404 in 1941 at the beginning of World War II. On 22 Mar 1941 Fort De Soto was designated a sub-post of MacDill Field, Florida, it became an Army Air Force gunnery and bombing training center during the war.
Pinellas County bought the original 271 acre tract and an additional 613 acres back from the U.S. Government in 1948 for $26,500. In 1963 Fort De Soto Park was dedicated. Period guns and carriages are now displayed including the only remaining installation of 12", M1890M1 Mortars on M1896M1 Carriages in the U.S. and a display of two 6" British Armstrong guns from Battery Burchsted on Fort Dade (3).
Visited: 20 Dec 2009