The Turnstile Island

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June 29, 2019, Charleston, SC-

It was a still, warm day, even on the water, as the Noon ferry headed out of Charleston Harbor, towards Fort Sumter.  The hundred or so tourists and Park Service staff who were aboard were a far cry from the angry men who stormed Fort Sumter, after firing on the supposedly impregnable island fort, on April 12, 1861- the opening shots of the American Civil War.

The fort was one of those which  had been built as a response to the glaring lack of coastal defense, during the War of 1812.  Thus, it is ironic that Fort Sumter should have been the symbol of oppression, to many in South Carolina, and that it would change hands three times, during the Civil War’s progression.  Built with three stories, to convey the image of indestructible fortress, it was leveled by bombardment and was turned into an earthwork, by Confederate defenders, between 1861-63.

I have had Fort Sumter on my to-go list, since 2007, when we made a family “virtual field trip” journey, for Penny’s University studies.  We never made it to Charleston, among other places. Now, though,  the scintillating city. and Fort Sumter, were on my blog-topic itinerary..

Here are some scenes of the ferry route and of the Fort.  The park’s office and waiting area are adjacent to the South Carolina Aquarium, just north of downtown Charleston.

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Whilst waiting for the Noon ferry, I happened upon East Bay Deli, on a row of eateries, three blocks south of the Aquarium.  It is a perfect spot for a full line of made-to-order delicatessen foods.

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Below is a scene of Castle Pinckney, a small fortress from which Confederate forces harassed Union Naval vessels.

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This sand spit is used by Charlestonians as a private beach, and is not part of Fort Sumter.

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The first sight we saw, after the Ranger Talk, was of these cannon portholes.

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Here is one of the entrances to the lower breastworks.

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A full view of the cannon ports faces east.

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Sea shells were used to reinforce the mortar, during the fort’s repairs in 1862.

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The cannon portholes are sometimes shut

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and sometimes open.

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The cannon was always at the ready.

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The supports of the upper stories still remain, in several parts of the fort.

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For the person who has done everything, there is this:

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My money still needs to go elsewhere, but there it is.  This is one such cannon that has been adopted.

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Finally, here is a Howitzer, used by the Confederates, during their defense of the fort, in 1863.  The Union forces won that battle and retained control of the island, thereafter.

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Fort Sumter reinforced my view of the folly of war, when pursued as a means to safeguard ideology or narrow self-interest.  We have far more in common, as human beings, and thankfully have come a fair distance in viewing others in a positive light, since the Nineteenth Century.

NEXT:  Raleigh’s Capitol District

 

The Road to 65, Mile 24: A Refuge and A Fortress

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December 22, 2014, Truth or Consequences- It was a mild day, which I started with a lovely breakfast of Strawberry Pancakes and sausage patties, at Socorro’s El Camino Family Restaurant.  Once again, all the regulars were present; nobody named Strawberry, though.

I set out for my first visit to Bosque del Apache (Apache Woods), since Penny and I came here in 1983.  It made an impression then, and did so now.  There were more sandhill cranes back then, and one of the docents gave a reason for the relative decline in their numbers.  The cranes have become dependent on corn that is grown by a farmer, who is employed by the Refuge.  The farmer they had, left and so, if anyone is interested in growing corn, specifically to feed birds, and be part of an upbeat crew of wildlife managers- contact Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

I began my drive down El Camino Real (New Mexico Highway 1), with a stop at this defunct Catholic church, in San Antonio, NM.  This little village has few remaining residents,but it is still worth remembering.  Each small settlement along the Royal Road was once a major stop, for those on foot or on horseback.

SAM_3347 I was greeted, upon my entrance into the Wildlife Refuge, by a Greater Sandhill Crane, perched on a branch.  Of course, he flew off immediately as I got my camera ready to shoot.  Continuing on, I walked a 3-mile loop of Chupadera National Recreational Trail.  The whole trail, up Chupadera Peak and back, would’ve been 9 miles.  I had more on my agenda, so that can be done another time.  The cairns mark each length of the trail.SAM_3355 Watch out!  The snakes and scorpions may be hibernating.  Not so, the thorny bushes.SAM_3358 Out in the distance, lie the San Andres Mountains.SAM_3360 Ann Young was an avid birder, who has since passed on.  To make up for the relative lack of wintering birds this year, here is a video of one of her last visits to Bosque: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyecyGVWrto.SAM_3361 New growth is taking its place, all over Bosque del Apache.SAM_3363 From the window of the Visitor Center, one can sit for hours, just watching the various finches, wrens and hummingbirds eat their fill.  Many, though, prefer the findings on the ground and in the brush.SAM_3367 Believe it or not, a bald eagle is perched in the cottonwood tree on the right.SAM_3369 Trees growing up out of the sandbars create a safe haven for aquatic life, but also are a convenient place for raptors to sit and enjoy the view.SAM_3372 I walked this berm, around a marsh that is full, seasonally.  This is not the season of its fullness, but I got a sense of what it could be.  A Cooper’s hawk followed me around the loop, screeching, but never quite finding its favourite meal.SAM_3376 Raptors, cliff swallows and barn swallows make their nests in these sandstone cliffs.SAM_3383 SAM_3386 Here is an overlook, above the Marsh Trail.SAM_3389 When I climbed the path, this was my view.  Some say the Chihuahua Desert is more barren than the Sonoran.  Right now, I’d say they are correct.

SAM_3390 This is an oxbow of the Rio Grande, and trends towards dry, even when the river itself is full.SAM_3395 As you can see in Ann Young’s video, sometimes the bed under this boardwalk is full of water.  Not today.SAM_3396 SAM_3399 It is good enough for cattails, though.SAM_3400 My spirit friend was on the job.SAM_3401 Once back along the main flow of the Rio Grande, I spotted a Lesser Sandhill Crane, by its lonesome.SAM_3412 From the Eagle Scout Deck, more evidence of past drynesses and flows could be seen.SAM_3415 On my next visit to Bosque, I will focus more on the North Loop and the Canyon Trail.  It’ll also mean taking in a Fly-In, at sunset.

Continuing down El Camino Real, I came to a dirt road, which led me to Fort Craig, five miles eastward.  This National Historic Site is comprised of ruins, and figures in three sorry episodes of our nation’s history:  The Mexican War, which was its raison d’etre; the Civil War, during which Confederates from Texas tried to use New Mexico as a steppingstone to Colorado’s gold fields; and the Trans- Mississippi Indian Wars, which just led to more suffering and misunderstandings, on both sides.  That its ruins stand at all, however, show just how formidable Fort Craig was.  Walking these paths brought me back to the ramparts and walls of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  The pilings below support the earthworks, which defended the fort against the Confederate force.

SAM_3416 This is what’s left of the Guard House and Jail.  Prisoners were segregated by race, as were the soldiers.SAM_3418 These are the remains of the Commanding Officer’s Quarters.SAM_3420 SAM_3421 The perimeter walls were more formidable than they look now.SAM_3425SAM_3426 Here is the Magazine Storage, where ammunition was kept safe and dry.SAM_3431 The Battle of Valverde, near Socorro, was a Pyrrhic victory for the Confederates.  They lost so much in materiel that they were unable to capture Fort Craig and hobbled on to Albuquerque, never gaining control of New Mexico.SAM_3435 I don’t believe I have ever cast such a long shadow.  Being tired by now, my course of action was to stop in the unique town of Truth or Consequences.  The story has been told by someone on my Facebook wall, but I will discuss it at length in “Mile 25.”

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