|Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island|
|Casemates Inside the Fort|
You have to take a boat to visit Fort Massachusetts and you catch the excursion boat to the island from the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi.
|Fort Massachusetts Excursion Boat, Capt. Pete|
Ship Island is a popular recreation area as well as the site of Fort Massachusetts. The snow white beaches and the historic fort draw groups from all over the country and the excursion boat may have a number of good sized groups on it.
|Inside the Fort, Circular Staircase on Right and |
Hot Shot Furnace in the Corner
The boat lands at the Ship Island pier which is right at the fort. You exit the boat on a long boardwalk which goes past the fort and on to the Gulf side of the Island and the recreational beaches. This is a very small island and it is not far from one side to the other.
The fort itself is in remarkably good condition considering the number of major hurricanes it has weathered, including Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005). The National Park Service has done a remarkable job in restoring and maintaining the fort. The park rangers conduct tours of the fort usually starting right after the boat docks. On my visit they conducted the first tour for the non-group people and later they did separate tours for each of the two student groups.
|15" Rodman Cannon in North Bastion|
|Outside Embrasure, Note the Different Color Brick|
The tour may or may not include a peek inside the parade level magazines and the two guard rooms, make sure you check them out if they are not on the tour. Only the central spiral staircase was open on the day I visited but there are two more that you can view. A walk around the outside perimeter of the fort gives you some insight into the construction stages and the water side profile of the fort. The iron looking casemate embrasures seemed to all be reproductions but really looked real and add a lot to the look of the fort.
If you go during the week you will probably spend most of the day on the island so go prepared. There is a snack bar and they have many beach necessities for sale. They also rent beach chairs and umbrellas. The menu includes hamburgers and chili cheese dogs. Don't forget the sunblock, the snow white sand really reflects the sun.