Fort Jefferson - Key West, FL - Historic and Cultural Parks

 
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Welcome to Fort Jefferson 
In the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 70 miles west of Key West, are the seven saltwater reef islands that make up Dry Tortugas National Park. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish conquistador and colonial administrator in the Caribbean, discovered and named the Dry Tortugas in 1513 as he sailed around the Florida peninsula. In the centuries that followed his first Florida expedition, the reef islands were an important navigational marker for sailors in the Gulf of Mexico and many ships passed through – and wrecked – in the Dry Tortugas. In the mid-19th century, when the islands were no longer a Spanish possession, the United States built Fort Jefferson, on the Dry Tortugas’ Garden Key Island to guard the Florida Straits.