As we prepare for an in-depth exploration of the Old Fort Park, we felt it imperative to understand the history behind the location.
Old Fort Park is the site of Fort Pierce, a military installation constructed by the U.S. Army in Florida with the purpose of being a main supply depot for the army during the Second Seminole War. During the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the U.S. Army began setting up military posts throughout the state of Florida. In 1837 Col. Benjamin K. Pierce (brother to the future 14th president) was sent down the Indian River from St. Augustine, charged with finding a location to build a base for operations in the area. Finding a fresh water spring, he chose his spot on a bluff overlooking the Indian River Lagoon. A year later, he built a fort out of palmetto trees.
Col. Pierce and his men were far from the first residents in the area, though the town is named after him. In fact, the fort itself was constructed near an ancient burial mound of the Ais Indians.
The mound is several hundred feet around, and a series of stone steps takes you to the top, where there is a beautiful view of the Indian River, named after the Ais. Although the Ais died out 250 years before the fort was built- long before the Seminoles migrated south from Alabama and Georgia- the survival of their structure compared to the vanishing of the soldiers’ fort, which burned to the ground in the 1840s, is quite remarkable.
We will be going out during the day to take pictures of the location and to scout for any situations that might interfere with the conduction of an investigation.
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