Fort Foster State Historic Site (part of Hillsborough River State Park) is a reproduction of a fort originally built on the same grounds in December 1836, by Col. William S. Foster and his 430 men. During the Second Seminole War the purpose of Fort Foster was to defend the bridge crossing at the Hillsborough River and act as a resupply point for the soldiers in the field.
Fort Foster was originally built in December 1836 under the direction of Lt. Col. William S. Foster on the site of Fort Alabama. On December 1, 1836 Colonel Foster arrived at the site with 430 men to rebuild the fort and bridge that had been destroyed months earlier. By December 19, he had erected 2 blockhouses, a large storehouse and a fort. Then on the 22nd, Col. Foster departed with 180 men, and 25 wagons with provisions and forage to resupply Fort Armstrong. The remainder of his men were tasked with completing the bridge and powder magazine.
On January 1, 1837, Col. Foster boasted in a letter to General R. Jones that, "the works at Fort Foster on the Hillsborough River form one of the best and strongest field fortifications ever erected against Indians."
Fort Foster was a strategic fortification built for the protection of the bridge and the supplies within. Fortified supply depots were continuously placed deeper into Seminole territory to allow the soldiers to operate in the field while they captured the hostile Seminoles.
In recent years, park staff and re-enactors provided living history demonstrations of life at Trail Member, Fort Foster. The park staff has also conducted weekly tours of the park, allowing visitors the opportunity of touring the fort and grounds.
However, the current condition of Fort Foster makes it unsafe to host any events and tours until a major restoration project can be completed.
Due to storms damage and age, the wooden structures have deteriorated. While there have been some repairs, now the support structures and ramparts (boardwalks) need to be replaced. Volunteers have completed a preliminary assessment of the repairs needed to make Fort Foster safe for the public to enjoy. The estimated cost of the materials and hardware has exceeded $75,000. The Hillsborough River State Park Preservation Society, who support the Florida State Park programs, are collecting donations toward this important restoration project.
page information credit: Florida State Parks, National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service, Crazy Crow Trading Post [www.crazycrow.com], USF Tampa
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors