Egmont Key Island State Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

A few weeks ago I posted photos of a trip to Fort DeSoto Park in Florida with my photo phriend Paula Showen. Our original intent was to hop a ferry there to Egmont Key, a small island just off the coast. However, the ferry wasn’t running that day. So, we returned a few weeks later and, by golly, hopped that ferry!

Some interesting facts about Egmont Key:

  • It was formed thousands of years ago from a river delta and stands at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Ships coming to Port of Tampa must pass Egmont Key then pass under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge before reaching the port. There is a harbor pilot station on the island for the incoming/outgoing ships.
  • Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to survey the island in 1757. It passed back and forth between Spain and England for a few years. During that time, it was named by the English for the Earl of Egmont in Ireland. It passed to the US in 1827.
  • There is no roadway to the island. You must take a private boat or ferry to reach it. Here’s our worthy vessel ($20 roundtrip per person) moored at the dock before we boarded:

Egmont Key Ferry BoatAnd moored at the beach on the island:

fort desoto ferry boat

  • The island stands at the mouth of Tampa Bay so all ships coming from the gulf to Port of Tampa must pass it. Because of its position, a lighthouse was built in 1847, which was destroyed in the Great Gale of 1848. Reportedly, the lighthouse keeper rode out the storm in a small boat tied to a palmetto. Afterward, he rowed to Fort Brooke in present-day Tampa and immediately resigned. A new lighthouse was built in 1858 and is operated by the Coast Guard today.
  • There is no entrance fee for Egmont Key. There are also no shops of any kind, so you have to bring your own food, water and such. It’s open from 8am to sunset each day.
  • Egmont Key was a camp for captured Seminoles who were then sent on to a reservation elsewhere. The island was occupied by the Union Navy in the Civil War during the blockade of the South.
  • In 1898, Fort Dade was built on Egmont Key because of the Spanish-American War. It was active until 1923. Today, there are many ruins of the Fort on the island. You can freely explore them; they make great photo opps:

ft dade egmont key ruins

Fort Dade ruins floridaOne of my favorite shots of Paula posing in a bunker:

Paula Showen Egmont Key

egmont key ruins rust anchor

  • A town was built near Fort Dade for the people serving the fort and soldiers. You can freely explore the ruins of the town as well. Here’s a surviving red brick street:

fort dade ruins egmontHere’s a topless building near the street I turned into a black and white:

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