Fort Caroline – Rangers with winter hats


Sometimes what makes an impression on me is all about the people and not so much about the place I visit.

One more National Park Service Unit to visit on our way back from Florida. We stopped at Fort Caroline, east of Jacksonville. The fort was built in 1564 by a group of French Hughenots looking for a place to settle, for religious freedom but mostly for gold and riches.  They settled on the St. Johns River and tried to get along with the local Indians, the Timucuans.

Things didn’t go too well with the Indians. In addition, the Spanish thought that the French were trespassing on their lands and massacred most of them.  The ones that survived left and sped back to France. Nothing is left of the fort or the settlement but again, the NPS does a great job of interpreting.

FOCA-RibaultmonumentAbout a half-mile is the Ribault monument, named for the leader of the settlement. The first monument was erected by the Florida Daughters of the American Revolution to commemorate the first landing of Protestants on American soil. To the DAR, that was something to celebrate.

FOCA-viewfrombirdingplatformAcross the street from the Fort is the Theodore Roosevelt Area. It’s a large area with trails which was donated by the landowner, Willie Browne in order to preserve the wild nature of the site. We walked the trails and went to the birding platform. A beautiful view.

On the trail, we saw the two rangers above. They had retrieved a sweater that was forgotten by a visitor. “Hey, where’s your flat hat?” I asked them.

“Oh no. Now we wear our winter hats.” Winter? It was about 65 degrees but it’s winter in Florida.



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