Fort Tayla

  • Linear Location

    Fort East Martello Park, Key West, Florida, US

Gallery

Overview

Fort Tayla was a very important fort for the people of the Conch Republic. It allowed military dominance of the channel just off shore, the most efficient route for trade goods being shipped from the western gwomes of Phlorida and the shore and oceanic districts of the Atlantic. However, this plaque honors a more benign and visually stunning history: the dedication of the Tehachapi’s KPH, an event that was in some ways equally important to the history of the Conch Republic as the fort itself.
Fort Tayla was a very important fort for the people of the Conch Republic. It allowed military dominance of the channel just off shore, the most efficient route for trade goods being shipped from the western gwomes of Phlorida and the shore and oceanic districts of the Atlantic.

However, this plaque honors a more benign and visually stunning history: the dedication of the Tehachapi’s KPH, an event that was in some ways equally important to the history of the Conch Republic as the fort itself. To watch a kind of walk through of the overall original placement of the plaque, click here.  Since this time, out of sensitivity to the Conch community it has been relocated to the site of another important Conch Fort, East Martella.

Access

Present location of Plaque is Fort East Martello and it is accessible during normal park hours at 3501 South Roosevelt Boulevard

Key West, FL Location:

Public Dedication

This plaque was dedicated as part of Sculpture Key West at the sector of Fort Tayla that became what we call Fort Taylor. But since the dedication, it has been moved the Martella sector because of concerns that the siting at the site of Fort Taylor would incite the local Conch community.

 

Dedication Date: 2005-01-16

Text of the Marker

The part of the story installed here:

Fort Tayla

This ancient fort of the Conch Republic has seen ferocious fighting: the inconclusive Battle of the Seas, the incendiary Southard Incident and the death of General Qui Xi at the hands of her troops. But it has also witnessed great beauty, such as the Armadas of Life and Hope as they sailed past this very point on relief missions.

One of the most spectacular moments occurred a generation of generations ago, when the Tehachapi completed the KPH, their legendary roadway from above Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas. (Bridges and other remnants of that triumph can still be seen from Route 1.) To celebrate this feat, every gwome in the Keys declared a truce and allowed the builders to trace all 192 miles of asphalt with a potent extract of firefly. After the Sun set on the appointed day, darkness triggered the bioluminescence and an eerie, beautiful glow marched all the way down the Keys. At any one spot, the pulse of light probably lasted no more than several dozen heartbeats. But here, at Fort Tayla, where the road’s path brushed the north walls, the gathered spectators could watch for a long time as the pale burst eased into the distant West. The Jesuit Earl Frontage called it “a ribbon of cool yellow-green fire which left all behind quiet—and quiet jealous of the eagles and dolphins who saw it best.”

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