Fort Mose388 Votes Currently Open [Closes at 05:00 pm]
An African slave was a prize of war and his or her journey in life was servitude. A weak tribe would honour a powerful tribe by giving away their people as slaves. Or local traders would kidnap people and send them off to be sold. The African interior was riddled with disease, the natives were often hostile and the land uncharted. The Europeans preferred to stay in the coastal region and have the natives bring the slaves to them. European slave traders rarely ventured beyond Africa's coastal regions. Some of these slaves escaped and found refuge at Fort Mose.
More than 250 years ago, African born slaves endangered their lives to escape English plantations in Carolina and find freedom among the Spanish living at St. Augustine. Fighting slave catchers and dangerous swamps, they somehow managed to come to St. Augustine for freedom. They helped create the first American Underground Railroad more than a century before the Civil War. Bold Africans and their Indian allies travelled southward to Florida. In Florida the Spanish freed the fugitives in return for their service to the King and their conversion to the Catholic faith. The Spanish were glad to have skilled labourers, who were also an addition to the weak military force of St. Augustine.
In 1738 the Spanish Governor established Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosa, or the Fort Mosa which became the first legally sanctioned free black town in the present-day United States, and it is a critically important site for Black American history. Mose has evidence that Black American colonial history was much more than slavery and oppression. The people of Mose won their freedom through great challenge and effort and made a significant impact on Florida’s history.
The men and women who shaped the community at Mose are no longer anonymous. Dr. Jane Landers discovered centuries-old documents in the colonial archives of Spain, Florida, Cuba, and South Carolina to tell us who lived in Mose and something about what it was like to live there. She documented that in 1759 the village consisted of twenty-two palm thatch huts called Chosa and they housed thirty-seven men, fifteen women, seven boys and eight girls. The people farmed the land and attended Mass in a wood church and men stood guard at the fort.
Today, artefacts are displayed in the museum within the visitor centre at the park. On the grounds, interpretive panels are used to illustrate the history of the site. Three replicas of historic items have been installed within the park: a chosa or a cooking hut, a small historic garden, and a small Spanish flat boat called a barca chata.
Fort Mose Travel Tips
- Fort Mose provides an excellent opportunity for viewing a variety of birds.
- This 49 acre park is a sanctuary for both resident and migrating birds.
- Whether viewing wood storks and great blue herons in the rookery or catching site of pileated woodpeckers, there is something for every birder at Fort Mose.
- See the Events Page for upcoming Bird Walks.
- Geocaches are hidden in the park. Please check geocaching.com for the most current up-to-date information.
- Interpretive panels are installed throughout the park, depicting the story of Fort Mose.
- The Museum has a collection of highly interactive, multimedia exhibits and artefacts found during the excavation of the second Fort Mose site.
- Pets are allowed in the park's roads, trails, boardwalk, and picnic area.
- Pets must be kept on a 6-foot hand-held leash at all times and must be quiet and well-behaved.
- You must "scoop" after your pet. Don't forget your baggies, these rules help preserve an important habitat for wildlife.
- Please do not leave your pets unattended in a vehicle for their safety, as temperatures inside vehicles can be dangerously high.
- A small picnic pavilion is available for day use at no charge. Several picnic tables are also located behind the park’s visitor centre for day use at no charge.
- Restrooms are available in the park’s visitor centre.
- Fort Mose State Park is home to a variety of Florida wildlife including a number of species of butterflies, fiddler crabs, a variety of frogs, box turtles and other various reptiles.
- The park is also home to a wide variety of birds, both resident and migrating.
- Self-guided tour materials are available at the park’s visitor centre.
- Visitors can choose from scavenger hunt or sensory tour versions. Guided group tours are available upon request. Please contact the park at (904) 823-2232 to weeks in advance to make arrangements. Ranger guided tours are open to the public every Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
Entrance Ticket Details For Fort Mose
- Children below 5 get free entrance.
- Collage Restaurant: Seafood, Steak house, Eclectic
- The Chocolate Turtle: Cafe, Dessert
- Casa Benedetto's Italian Caffe: Italian
- Monkey Ballz Cafe: American, Dessert, Cafe, Sandwiches, Hotdogs
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38.68% of people who visit St Augustine include Fort Mose in their plan
2 PM - 3 PM
48.72% of people start their Fort Mose visit around 2 PM - 3 PM
People usually take around 1 Hr to see Fort Mose
95% of people prefer to travel by car while visiting Fort Mose
Fort Mose Reviews & Ratings
Awesome place, very interesting facts and history, really great to learn more about the beginnings of Florida, especially the parts that are less talked about. Definitely recommend! Super clean and nice sitting area for a picnic or whatever, nice nature trails as well. Interactive exhibits, a little small but just as filled with information. I loved it, took my whole family here and they loved it too!
This was my first time visiting a Florida State Park. Very interesting to learn about a part of U.S. history that very few people know about. The visitor center was one of the nicest I've seen at a state park.
Fascinating history of America. Thank you for such an excellent and engaging historical presentation of the orgins of St. Augustine. We learned so much history that is not taught in school.
This place was cool especially since I had never even heard of it and I've lived in Jacksonville pretty much my whole life. I wish there were some houses or something from back then set up. There's really not much to look at but the stories were interesting. And if you can't read, they do have audio and there's a movie that they play.
An amazing place to go birding and learn a lesser known bit of Florida's history