Tucked away among native pines lies a site claiming national significance.
The Fort King National Historic Landmark, originally built in 1827, served as a military fort in the 1830s and acted as a strategic base during the Second Seminole War. Today, the site is jointly owned by the City of Ocala and Marion County with the intention of further educating visitors of its rich history and significance.
The Fort King Heritage Association, Inc. provides several opportunities for people to explore the 40-acre site with an interactive walking trail, visitors center, numerous artifacts, picnic facilities and several special events planned throughout the year.
“This month, we’ll have our annual Haunted Trail with candy stations and a free movie on October 27,” says Keifer Calkins, the outdoor/historical resource coordinator with the City of Ocala. “The entire trail is decorated, and it’s so much fun for families,” he says, noting they expect over 1,500 visitors. Other special events include evening lectures on October 19 and November 9 along with the third annual reenactment event on December 1 and 2.
“There will be actors in period dress, historical vendors, narrators, a blacksmith and various non-profit organizations as well,” explains Keifer. A special treat for visitors will be the firing of the latest addition to the site, a period replica cannon of a Model One1841 Bronze Mountain Howitzer. The cannon was acquired earlier this year thanks to a grant from the Felburn Foundation.
“Guests can walk right up to it, and volunteers are available to answer questions,” explains Keifer. The cannon will be fired during special events throughout the year. For more information about Fort King, guests can visit the Fort King Heritage Association’s Facebook page or fortkingocala.com or call (352) 368-5535.
Did You Know?
- Fort King was named for Colonel William King.
- The original Fort King was burned by Seminole Indians in 1836. A second Fort King was rebuilt in 1837.
- Marion County was established in 1844, Fort King served as the
- The last original building in Fort King was destroyed by fire in the 1920s.
Fort King’s Timeline
- 1827 Fort King is built.
- 1836 The fort is abandoned and burned to the ground.
- 1837 A second Fort King is built, serving as military headquarters.
- 1920s Fort King is destroyed by fire.
- 1953 Archeological investigation begins.
- 1968 A fallen tree reveals a building foundation from Fort King.
- 1988-2001 Negotiations ensue until the City of Ocala and Marion County purchase the Fort King Landmark.
- 2014 The Fort King National Landmark opens to the public.