After the War of 1812 with Great Britain, the US decided that it would be wise to strengthen our coastal defenses. Because of this, in 1826 Fort Macon was constructed. Its’ purpose was simple but vital, to guard the Beaufort inlet and Beaufort harbor. The fort was run as intended until 1867, when it was converted into a federal prison. Fort Macon acted as a prison until 1876. It was formerly turned into a state park in 1924, the state’s second piece of land purchased for the purpose of a state park.
The fort itself consists of walls made of brick and stone. The fort has 26 rooms, also referred to as casemates. These rooms have walls that can average a thickness of four and a half feet. The floors are made up of long wooden planks.
Fort Macon features over one and a half miles of open beach for hiking. The fort also features three separate walking trails, one at half a mile, the second at a mile and a half, and the third at a little over three miles. All three of their walking trails range from easy to moderate difficulty, perfect for anyone looking for a good walking trail. Bird hikes are also featured, where you can learn about and help identify birds native to the area. Plant and animal check lists are offered at the park office as well.
Fishing is big at the fort as well. The inlet and ocean surrounding the fort is full of fish year-round. Expect to find catches such as bluefish, flounder, and spot.
Thinking of going for a picnic? The fort also provides on-site outdoor grills, picnic tables, public restrooms, and trash facilities. All of these amenities are open year-round.
As for the public beach that sits in front of the fort, expect to see lifeguards on duty from 10am to 5:45pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Want to tour the fort and really go in depth with the history? The fort offers fort tours that last about 45 minutes, all about the fort itself and everything in its’ history. The fort’s tours are generally held Monday through Friday at 11 am and begin at the fort’s entrance.
Interested in the muskets used while the fort was still in operation? The fort offers musket demonstrations! Expect to learn about 19th century muskets, their history, loading procedures, and firing.
To get to Fort Macon, cross the Atlantic Beach bridge and turn left onto NC 58. The fort is located on the tip of the island at 2303 East Fort Macon Road. For more information about the fort, contact them at 252-726-3775, or check out their website. Park hours are 9am to 5:30pm daily.
(Images are provided from Google Images)