Fort Monroe is a pre Civil War army post with a long history defending the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Due to its current active military state, the fort is in excellent condition and well worth a visit. When entering Fort Monroe, you will need to enter on the west side (harbor side to your right) using Fenwick Road. This entrance is where you will secure a visitor day pass. By indicating to the base security personnel that you plan to visit the casematemuseum Casemate Museum should secure the necessary day pass. Once a base pass is secured, travel south on McNair Drive where it turns into Fenwick Road in front of the Chamberlin Hotel. Start your journey at the east entrance to the old fort where there is plenty of parking along the sea wall (just northeast of Battery Irwin). Before you enter the old fort, visit the old Gun Battery Irwin south of the parking area. This gun battery is the only one on Fort Monroe where actual restored guns still remain. Also visit Old Point Comfort Light just southwest of the gun battery. Then enter the fort through the east entrance and observe Quarters 1, Tower View, Parade Field, Church, and Robert E. Lee's quarters on the way to the Casemate Museum. Once your fort tour is complete, drive northeast on Fenwick Road and visit Gun Battery DeRussy and Gun Battery Church. By: Colorado Camper


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0: Starbucks Location and View of Church
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1: East Entrance
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2: Robert E. Lee's Quarters
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3: Bowling Alley and Snack Bar
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4: Flag Staff Bastion
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5: Old Point Comfort from Battery Irwin
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6: Parade Field
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7: Quarters 1
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8: The Casemate Museum
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9: The Historic Chamberlin Hotel
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10: Sea Wall
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11: North Entrance
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12: The Colonies Travel Park
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13: Lookout Tower
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14: Marina Restaurant
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15: Street View of Ingalls Road
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16: Bay Breeze
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17: Old Point Comfort Light
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18: Sea Wall Improvements
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0: Starbucks Location and View of Church

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Saint Mary's Star of the Sea

There is a Starbucks coffee shop located in the lobby of the fitness center. Saint Mary's church is across the road. After your Starbucks coffee break, reenter the fort through the entrance outside the fitness center and climb the fort wall. Journey north on the trail and you will begin to experience the historic nature of this national treasure. The views are outstanding! Travel the perimeter of the wall until you arrive at Quarters 1 to exit the fort and return to your vehicle.


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1: East Entrance

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East Entrance

Entrance to the fort from the east. Just inside the fort is Quarters 1 where Abraham Lincoln helped plan the Battle of Norfolk during the Civil War. Water Battery gun emplacement is just to the north of this entrance.

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East Entrance


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2: Robert E. Lee's Quarters

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Quarters where Robert E. Lee Stayed

Robert E. Lee, future Confederate General, was stationed at Fort Monroe from 1831 through 1834 as a Lieutenant of engineers. He was nearly in complete charge of construction and put the finishing touches on the fort. Lee's first child was born here in 1832.

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Inside Wall of Fort

Over the years, the casemate of the fort walls became quarters for the residence stationed at Fort Monroe.


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3: Bowling Alley and Snack Bar

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Base Bowling Alley

Here you can take a break and enjoy lunch. The bowling alley snack bar serves more than your typical hamburger.


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4: Flag Staff Bastion

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Soldier Saluting the US Flag

Every evening at 5 PM, a soldier fires the canon on the east wall to celebrate the bravery of the fallen dead from past wars.


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5: Old Point Comfort from Battery Irwin

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Old Point Comfort and Fenwick Road

Old Point Comfort Light is the second oldest lighthouse in the bay and the oldest still in use. Gun Battery Irwin is the only gun battery with refurbished gun emplacements and the only gun battery where the toutist can explore the gun emplacements as they might have looked many years ago.

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Fenwick Road and Senior Officer Housing


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6: Parade Field

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Fort Monroe Parade Grounds

If you find your way to the parade field, make sure to stop by and see the beautiful stained glass windows in the Chapel of the Centurion on the south side of the parade grounds. Erected by private subscription to be used for religious purposes and Protestant worship, the chapel is open at all times to all. This was a formal agreement between post commander and donors, 3 May 1858.

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Chapel of the Centurion
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15-inch Rodman Gun

On the fringes of the parade field is the first 15-inch Rodman Gun that was cast in 1860. Its range was more than four miles and the weight of the projectile was over 300 pounds. During the Civil War, it was used to bombard Confederate Batteries on Sewells Point. The gun was named for President Lincoln in March 1862.


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7: Quarters 1

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Quarters 1 from the Front

This is the house where President Abraham Lincoln stayed during his visit of May 6 through 11, 1862. It was here that President Lincoln, General Wool and Commodore Goldsborough planned the attack on Norfolk Virginia during the Civil War.

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Quarters 1 from the Backyard


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8: The Casemate Museum

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Entrance to the Casemate Museum

After visiting a few of the historic buildings of Fort Monroe, The Casemate Museum provides a perfect point to learn the complete history of the fort and experience exhibits that capture its evolution over time. Jefferson Davis, Confederate President during the Civil War, was imprisoned in this section of the fort. His room is reconstructed to its original form.

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Jefferson Davis Cell
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Casemate Display

Just outside the entrance to the Museum is a tunnel leading to a walking bridge that crosses the moat. Not well known to the casual visitor, there is a Starbucks coffee shop located a short walk to the north on the outside of moat (the fort is to your east). Starbucks is in the lobby of the physical fitness center off Ruckman Road, which was once a Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). This building has a historic past as well and is a great place to take a break. Before you go, however, climb the stairs outside the museum entrance and observe the Pet Cemetery.


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9: The Historic Chamberlin Hotel

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The Chamberlin Hotel
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National Register
of Historic Places

The commercially run Chamberlin Hotel operated successfully for 75 years from the military controlled Fort Monroe. The footprint of Fort Monroe grew over the years from the moat surrounded fort to its current foot print covering the entire peninsula. Most of these changes were for security reasons. The arches on the hotel's wide veranda offer views of the James River and Chesapeake Bay that stick in the memory of previous visitors. There are many stories from non military civilians who experienced wonderful vacations in the Chamberlin's ambiance - you can read a touching article in The Free Lance - Star. The events of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 finalized the demise of the Chamberlin. Base security restrictions and cumbersome base access requirements turned away civilian guests. It's ironic that the Chamberlin even survived the squalls from Hurricane Dennis in 1999, which flooded the peninsula by more than two feet of water.

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The Chamberlin Viewed from Fort Wall

The hotel is currently under renovation into retirement apartments. As permanent residence, security concerns should be less except for visiting guests. Fort Monroe is scheduled for closure in 2011 based on current Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decisions. It's clear that current renovators are gambling that the BRAC provides relief from previous security concerns. It will be interesting to watch Fort Monroe evolve after the BRAC.


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10: Sea Wall

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View from the Eastern Sea Wall

The eastern sea wall of Fort Monroe provide spectacular views of the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Along the sea wall, there are sandy beaches and rocky out-coppings that appear to be popular for fishing access. The beaches of Fort Monroe are a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. There's a popular beach at the Bay Breeze Community Center just southeast of the The Colonies Travel Park.

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Naval Shipyard Across the Bay
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Sea Wall Beach

If you are inclined to walk, the sea wall is paved and you can journey to the north and observe the gun batteries or stop by the Bay Breeze Community Center open to active and retired military and their guests.


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11: North Entrance

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North Entrance

Just northeast of this entrance on Patch Road is a small Post Exchange where you can purchase fuel, liquor and snacks. Be aware, the Post Exchange requires military identification to make purchases. The building near the entrance once served as a loading dock to supply the fort and dates back to the civil war.

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North Entrance from Fort Wall


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12: The Colonies Travel Park

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The Colonies Travel Park

This campground is reserved for active and retired military only. The Colonies RV Travel Park provides wonderful views of the Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy gorgeous beaches and a leisure tour through historic Fort Monroe. The campground offers paved sites with full hookup services and local television reception is good. Clean showers and laundry services are also provided.

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Water Inlet from Inner Bay
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Water Inlet from Inner Bay

Unfortunately, there are only 13 full service campsites and six overflow sites with electric and water. The campsites are named after the original 13 United States Colonies. There is a dump station near the park entrance. Water foul are abundant near the inner waters west of the campground. Grassy knolls provide an ideal water foul environment. The park provides a nature trail that follows the shore of this beautiful water inlet.


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13: Lookout Tower

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Tower from the East

The tower appears to be World War II vintage. Enemy submarines (U-Boats) entering the Chesapeake Bay was a major concern during World War II. During the war antisubmarine nets were stretched from Fort Wool to Fort Monroe. The tower provided a great vantage point to observe the shipping activity of the bay.

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Tower from the West


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14: Marina Restaurant

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Old Point Comfort Marina Restaurant

Enjoy lunch in a beautiful marina setting. The Marina Restaurant serves hamburgers, sandwiches and a salad bar. The food is not great, but the surroundings are pleasant.

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Old Point Comfort Marina


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15: Street View of Ingalls Road

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Street View of Ingalls Road

A journey to this point provides views of old fort support facilities and base housing. Fort Monroe is an extremely well kept Army base with a rich history.


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16: Bay Breeze

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Bay Breeze Community Center

The Bay Breeze Pool and Beach, located behind the Bay Breeze Community Center (formerly the Fort Monroe Club), overlooks the scenic Chesapeake Bay. The Outdoor Pool offers a large slide, diving board, large separate baby pool and direct access to the beach.

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Community Center Beach


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17: Old Point Comfort Light

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Old Point Comfort Light

The lighthouse, built in 1802, is the oldest standing structure at Fort Monroe. It remains an active navigation aid and the property of the US Coast Guard. During the War of 1812, the tower was used as a lookout by British invasion force while they attacked Washington. The adjacent house was the light keeper's quarters until the light was automated in 1973 when the house became Army property and the residence of a lucky soldier.


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18: Sea Wall Improvements

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Sea Wall Under Construction

Sea wall improvements are under way (likely part of the Chamberlin renovation). Along the sea wall, you will frequently observe many large naval and commercial vessels cruising by.

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Busy Shipping Lane


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