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Countdown to Savannah: Old Fort Jackson

Kathy Wood (kaydee)

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

Fort James Jackson

Slow Travelers will have a unique experience on the Saturday night of our Gathering weekend when we travel out of Savannah’s Historic District to Old Fort Jackson. Our group will have the private use of the complex for this very special evening, in what will surely be one of the most memorable events in Old Fort Jackson’s 200-year history.

Photo of Old Fort Jackson

Old Fort Jackson

Fort James Jackson—also known as Old Fort Jackson—is Georgia’s oldest standing brick fortification. The current fort was built in 1808 on the foundations of an earthen fort built during the Revoluntionary War. The fort was manned during the War of 1812 and expanded between 1845 and 1860. Confederate and Union forces each had control of the fort at different times during the Civil War. It was named for James Jackson, a Colonel in the American Army who was later the Governor of Georgia. He was also a United States representative and senator.

After the Civil War, changes in technology caused Fort Jackson to diminish in military importance. In 1923, Congress even voted to sell the fort as surplus property. The facility is now operated by the Coastal Heritage Society, a non-profit organization that leases the fort from the State of Georgia. CHS receives no state or federal funds, and proceeds from all events (including our Slow Travel evening) support education and restoration. Fort Jackson is a National Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The Fort’s extensive museum area will be open for our group’s visit in April. Two of the old powder magazines now contain displays of weaponry and tools from the fort and artifacts from the CSS Georgia, a Confederate ship that sank nearby. I especially recommend the very interesting short film about the Fort’s history. We'll be able to explore much of the fort and can walk on the parapet, looking down on the nine-foot tidal moat. There are 11 cannon at the Fort, one of which is the largest functional piece of Civil War artillery in the US.

When you’re at Old Fort Jackson, it’s easy to see why this spot was an excellent strategic location to protect Savannah. The fort is on the banks of the Savannah River, about three miles from the Historic District, off the road to Tybee Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Even today, every ship traveling to and from the Port of Savannah must pass by watchful eyes of Old Fort Jackson.

Our Slow Travel evening at Old Fort Jackson will be held on the parade grounds. There will be music, entertainment a drawing for door prizes, and a few surprises. Dinner will feature a Low Country Boil and other local specialities, with beer and wine included. We’ll travel to the Fort by trolley, with pick-up at several locations in the Historic District.

Jan, Leslie and I visited Old Fort Jackson this past January on a beautiful morning with a sparkling blue sky. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my family and with many of you in April, and hopefully we’ll enjoy a memorable sunset. It’s a secluded and special spot where we’ll experience history and nature… and a whole lot of fun!

Take a virtual tour of Old Fort Jackson (three different scenes).

See the layout and photos of Old Fort Jackson.

Learn more about the history of Old Fort Jackson on the Coastal Heritage Society website and the Fort Tours website.

Resources

All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)

Woods Family Grand Tour of Europe: List of articles and photo albums by Kathy Wood


Kathy is a former Human Resources executive who now works as a consultant and part-time college professor. She and Charley also lead The Luberon Experience (www.luberonexperience.com), a week-long, small-group trip based in Provence.

© Kathy Wood, 2007


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