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Ship Islands and Fort Massachusetts, Gulf Islands National Seashore

Biloxi, MS 39564

Historic Fort Massachusetts is on West Ship Island, a barrier island 12 miles off the Mississippi Coast. The island is accessible only by private boat or passenger ferry. Rangers will present a variety of programs including fort talks and island walks. For more information call 228-875-9057 x 4100. Fort Massachusetts was built on Ship Island for national defense. Both domestic and foreign powers recognized the strategic significance of the natural deep water harbor on the north side of the island. After lengthy debate fort construction began in the summer of 1859. Storms, disease, climate, isolation and the Civil War made construction on this remote barrier island a challenge. Construction on Fort Massachusetts halted in 1866 although the fort was not fully completed. The fort has not only withstood actions of war but also the more subtle enemies of time and neglect. The devastating and powerful Hurricanes Camille (1969) and Katrina (2005) washed over and through the building but failed to significantly undermine the structure.
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