Fort Barrancas

Fort Barrancas as it is known since 1839 (known as Fort San Carlos de Barrancas since 1787) is a U.S. National Historic Landmark as well as military fort that is found in the previous Warrington area of Florida’s Pensacola. Physically, it is situated within Pensacola’s Naval Air Station, which was later established around it.

The hill top fort is connected to a water battery (sea level) and it overlooks Pensacola Bay. From the yeas 1839 to 1844, the historic Spanish fort located on the hill underwent dramatic reconstruction expanding it in brick. This is what is today known as Fort Barrancas. The previous water battery slightly downhill is what is named separately as Fort San Carlos, and is a remnant of the Spanish fortification (San Carlos de Barrancas) of late 18th century.

After changing requirements after the Second World War, Fort Barrancas was deactivated by the U.S. army. The fort was designated a NHL (National Historic Landmark) in 1960 and later on transferred to the administration and control of the National Park Service in 1971. Fort Barrancas was then open to the public after their extensive renovation between 1971 and 1980.

There were numerous forts built on the site that Fort Barrancas was on, including Fort San Carlos de Austria, erected by the Spanish back in 1698. In 1707, it was besieged by Indians under the leadership of English traders, but it was not taken. In 1719, French forces took over Pensacola and ruined the Spanish Fort.

In the seven years of war, following Britain’s defeat of French war lords, 1763 saw it exchange territory with Spain, taking over West Florida. The British used the site as a fortification harbor and in 1763, they built the Royal Navy Redoubt. During the American Revolutionary War, over a decade later, the Spanish, as enemies of the British joined the war, although they did not really become American allies. They took over near Pensacola in 1781 and took over West Florida and completed Fort San Carlos de Barrancas in the year 1797. Barranca is Spanish for bluff, a natural terrain feature making the location quite ideal for the fortress.

Fort Barrancas presently hosts a visitor center for the National Seashore of the Gulf Islands, with the visitor center housing exhibits that explain the history of the fort. Guests can take a tour of the battery and restored fort. To reach the fort, visitors must pass through the Naval Air Station’s grounds of Pensacola in order to get to the fort.

See information about another great location in Pensacola, the National Naval Aviation Museum.