From 1899 to 1923, the U.S. Army's installation on Egmont Key, the tiny island just southwest of the southern tip of Pinellas County, defended Tampa Bay with batteries of big guns. Like Fort De Soto across the channel on the mainland, it was planned during the Spanish-American War. But the first troops didn't arrive until a month after the peace treaty was signed, and it was declared obsolete after just four years.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Egmont Key Alliance, a citizens group that supports the island, will offer tours of the old military fortress, shown above, and offer insights into the island's history, beaches and natural wonders.
Boats will leave Fort De Soto Park near the old fort on the bay side continually from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days. The last boats return to the mainland at 4 p.m. each day.
Fort De Soto Park is off the Pinellas Bayway, past Tierra Verde. Tickets are $15, with ages 6 and younger free. Advance tickets are suggested. Tickets and information are available at www.egmontkey.org. (727) 893-2627.