A little-known chapter in Florida history is that of Fort Mose, the first free African settlement in the what eventually became the southern United States.
Escaped slaves came to Spanish Florida and established this community on the edge of St. Augustine with permission from the Spanish governor.
Location: St. Augustine
Fees: Grounds are free. $2 per person museum fee.
Open: Grounds open 9-5 daily. Museum open Thu-Mon 9-5.
Walkways, boardwalks, and museum are wheelchair accessible.
A kayak launch is provided behind the visitor center, past the picnic area.
Just north of the St. Augustine city gates off US 1. Follow the brown state park signs to the parking area.
Founded in 1738 under the direction of the Spanish governor of Florida, this segregated community of emancipated slaves constructed a log fortress around their village along the salt marsh.
In 1740 British invaders from Georgia overran the fortress. The inhabitants escaped to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, where they joined a Spanish force to retake the strategic point. When Spain turned Florida over to the British, the residents of Fort Mose fled to Cuba.
Inside the museum, the story of Fort Mose is told through its many artifacts. Although the fort is no more, a boardwalk leads out into the estuary to showcase a sweeping view encompassing the island where people lived inside its walls.
Living history re-enactors share the site’s many stories, with special events held at different times of year.