History of Fort De Soto

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History of Fort De Soto 2016-10-19T13:05:27+00:00

Fiftieth Anniversary of Fort De Soto 1963-2013

  • The Tocobaga Indians lived here and on surrounding barrier islands from 1,000 A.D. to approximately 1,500 A.D.The Tocobaga Indians belonged to the Safety Harbor culture period.
  • Spanish explorer Pánfilo de Narváez landed on the west coast of Florida on April 15, 1528 some where in between St. Pete Beach and Clearwater and may have explored Mullet Key.
  • Hernando De Soto arrived in May of 1539 on a historical conquest that started in this area.
  • In March of 1849 Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee and three other U.S. Army Engineers recommended that Egmont and Mullet keys be used by the military for coastal defense.
  • Construction on the military fort on Mullet Key began in 1898 and was completed in 1900. The military fort on Mullet Key was named Fort De Soto after Hernando De Soto in April of 1900. Other buildings for the post were constructed between 1900 and 1906.
  • Fort De Soto and Fort Dade on nearby Egmont Key never saw combat.
  • In May of 1923 both Fort De Soto and Fort Dade were abandoned and one caretaker remained on each post.
  • In 1940 the War Department turned Mullet Key into a bombing range that was a subpost of MacDill Field in 1941.
  • In 1948 Mullet Key was sold back to Pinellas County.
  • On May 11, 1963 Fort De Soto Park was officially designated.
  • In 1977, the Fort De Soto batteries were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Fort De Soto Park visitors can view the remains of Battery Laidley and the last four 12-inch M 1890-MI mortars remaining in North America

Historical Image Gallery Slideshow