Posted by Larry Myers
Ranger Frank Ofeldt

The Chief Historian at Ft . Clinch, Frank Ofeldt, presented the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club program today.  He has a BA in History from the University of Florida (UF). His parents and grandparents were from Amelia Island and he spent all his summers here. He let us know that the Boy Scouts have a History Patch and a sort of Scavenger Hunt…a series of questions where each Boy Scout has to research and visit a specific location in the Park in order to be able to answer a question. 


It took 17 years for Fort Clinch to be built: From 1847-1864.  The fort was built under the direction of the US Army Corps of Engineers.  It is an all brick fort, with some stone and Tabby elements, based upon a French design. The Fort could house 500 soldiers and 78 pieces of heavy artillery. 


Fort Clinch was part of a plan of 42 new forts built to protect our waterways.  There was some discussions about whether to build it in South Georgia (Cumberland Island) or on Amelia Island in Florida. Obviously, Amelia Island was chosen.

General Yulee

General Yulee fully supported its construction on the North trip of Amelia Island to protect the entrance to the St. Mary’s River and the natural deep water port/harbor of Fernandina Beach. At the time of construction, the harbor was 17 feet deep at low tide and 25 feet deep at high tide…deep enough to support any sea going vessels at that time.


A reconstruction of the Fort occurred in mid-1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC).  First the CCC began restoring the buildings at the Fort in 1936.

In 1937, the CCC began building roads and campgrounds and in 1940, Fort Clinch opened as a State Park.  It became the 8th Florida State Park.


With the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the declaration of WWII, the US Military seized and closed the Fort and beaches to all visitors and it remained that way till the end of the war.


Today Ft. Clinch is a 1,427 acre State Park with pristine restored facilities and 63 campsites.

It's an opportunity to see the Real Ole Florida.  A Great Place to get away and relax.


There are now, 175 Florida State Parks.

Past President John Boylan with Ranger Frank Ofeldt from Ft. Clinch