Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore



The forts of Gulf Islands National Seashore span almost 150 years, from the Spanish colonial Bateria De San Antonio (1797) to the World War Two-era Battery 234. This reflects the historic value of the anchorages at Pensacola Bay, Florida and Ship Island, Mississippi. Most striking among these are the American Third System forts: Fort Pickens, Fort Massachusetts, Fort Barrancas, and the Advanced Redoubt, all of which saw action during the Civil War.



Gulf Islands is a park steeped in a long history of settlement, conflict, and abandonment. When Europeans first visited the northern Gulf of Mexico in the early 1500s, they found Native American settlements that were populous and thriving.

Along the Gulf of Mexico, discovery by Europeans was followed by a long struggle for the region's control. Spain, in 1559, established a settlement in Florida on Pensacola Bay, but the place was abandoned soon afterward. Spaniards revived the settlement in 1698, surrendered it to the French in 1719, regained it by treaty in 1722, ceded it to the English in 1763, and repossessed it by force in 1781!

Gulf Islands National Seashore contains one of the most complete collections of publicly accessible structures relating to the evolution of seacoast defense in the United States. It represents a continuum of development from Spanish exploration and colonization through World War II.