Jim Steele, the manager of Fort Fisher State Historic Site was our May speaker. He talked about the history of the site noting that the site was the first designated National Historic Landmark. It’s significance was as the protector of the Port of Wilmington. After 1864 it was the only southern port open to bring supplies in to Robert E. Lee’s army.
Beach erosion has destroyed most of the sea face of the original fort which extended for more than a mile along the ocean. In 1996 the Corps of Engineers installed 3000 feet of revetment to stop this erosion.
Over a half million visitors come to the Fort each year, and guided tours are offered on the hour every day the fort is open to the public.
The Fort Fisher Strategic Planning Committee was formed two years ago to create ideas for the future of the site. Current plans include replacement of the 50 year old palisade fence which has deteriorated greatly. A model of the fabled Armstrong gun is being fabricated to be displayed at the visitor’s center and more interpretive signs will be placed along the trail around the mounds.
New sidewalk and interpretive signs are also planned for Battle Acre which has long been ignored. A lively discussion followed Mr. Steele’s presentation.