There is a book called "Cruising the Chesapeake: A Gunkholer's Guide" which is an excellent place to find lovely places to go by boat on the Chesapeake Bay. On their webpage they had a photograph of Ft. Monroe that shows the star shape of the fort that can't be easily seen even from the top of the hotel or in this old postcard. The photograph was not in the book.
I didn't want to use that photograph from their website without permission. But when I went through the fort this time, I found that the photograph is the second one here which is on display in the fort.
If you look at the Yahoo maps of this area, you can see the outline of the starshaped fort moat if you know where to look for it.
When we toured Ft. Monroe, we also learned about Fort Wool because Robert E. Lee (who was originally a military engineer), was given the job of stablizing the island when he was stationed at Ft. Monroe. From the website:
"A Brief History of Fort Wool 1823 - 1946
"The island that Fort Wool sits on is man-made. Known as the Rip-Raps, it was created beginning in 1818 on a shoal and is basically a big pile of rocks. The island .. was still incomplete at the start of the Civil War. .. Plans called for Castle Calhoun, the original name of Fort Wool, to have three tiers of casemates and a parapet with a total of 232 cannons. But as the island started to settle, construction stopped during the construction of the second tier.
"Fort Calhoun was used before the Civil War as a summer retreat for President Andrew Jackson. In 1862, a name change was in order. Named after John C. Calhoun, President Monroe's Secretary of War and Confederate sympathizer, it was decided that it would be named after Maj. Gen. John Ellis Wool, a Mexican War hero and commander at Fort Monroe..."
The soldiers at Ft. Wool were able to witness the battle of the Moniter and the Merrimac (some of the first ironclads).
"After being decommissioned it was given to the state in 1967 and in 1970 the City of Hampton developed it into a park. ... The island continues to settle to this very day, and recently the casemates of the original fortress were put off-limits for safety reasons. "
Access during most of the year is via the Miss Hampton II, (764 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton) a tour boat that docks at Hampton Visitor Center, next to Radisson Hotel It can also be briefly glimpsed by cars entering the southern end of the Hampton Roads tunnel on Interstate 64.
The tour costs $14.50 adults, $12.50 seniors, $8 children 6-11.
I have not taken this trip.
Hours: Tour from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. runs from April 12 to Oct. 31; Tour from 2-5 p.m. runs from May 25 to Sept. 2