Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park is located at the mouth of the St. Johns River, just north of Jacksonville, Florida. Yet, Yellow Bluff Fort was never a fort. It was an encampment that was fortified and equipped with large cannons and guns for protection against invading armadas that frequented the waters of the ST, Johns River during the Civil War. Built in 1862 and modified over the subsequent years, it was held by both Confederate and Union troops and during its peak use held an estimated 250 plus soldiers.
Today the site has changed little. A simple T-shaped earthwork and several embankments are all that remain of this once prosperous fort. It covers about two acres of land on the Yellow Bluff Peninsula on the north side of the St. Johns River. It is also one of seven parks that are collectively called the Talbot Islands State Park.
While confederate troops built this embattlement position in 1862, they lost it to union troops later that year. They never regained their positions and the union forces held the bluff until the end of the war. The 55th Massachusetts Regiment, an African-American unit arrived shortly after the battle of Olustee in 1864 and held its position against confederate troops until the end of the war.
Living history demonstrations often happen throughout the year and cannon firing and loading demonstrations are some of the most popular. Historians dressed in period clothing demonstrate weapons, camping and general living conditions around the fort.
While picnicking and self guided walks around the bluff are the only amenities of this Florida state park, several memorials and artifacts are scattered around the area. A corroded cannon rests on a concrete pedestal, while a small brick retaining wall and memorial mark the entrance to the earthworks and mounds.
Getting to Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park is easy. In north Jacksonville on New Berlin Road you will find the entrance to the park. From 9A, exit to Heckscher Drive then turn right on New Berlin Road. For more details on park hours and directions, visit the official Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park Website.