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Fort Dade

Egmont Key State Park

Tampa, Florida
Hillsborough County

This site is located in the WestCentral region of the state.


Egmont Key is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach. Access by private boat only.

This site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, Egmont Key is historically significant to the defense of the Tampa Area. The U.S. Light Service constructed a light tower and support buildings on this site in 1848. With the development of the coastal defense system associated with the Spanish American War, construction of Fort Dade began in 1898. Five artillery batteries as well as a town complete with railroad, school, movie theater and other services were constructed on the island. Beginning in the early nineteen thirties, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted training operations from this site.

With the outbreak of the war, observation towers on the island, manned by Army and Navy personnel, served as part of the coastal watch system. In bound merchant ships were required to stop at Egmont Key to off-load explosive munitions prior to entering the bay. These were then stored on the key and reloaded upon the return of the vessel. Other military activities during this period included amphibious warfare and aerial gunnery exercises.

This site, designated a National Wildlife Preserve in 1974, is jointly managed as such by the Florida Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.