Saving Fort D

Monday, November 28, 2005

One of the most under-recognized historical sites in Cape Girardeau is getting some much-needed attention. If volunteer history buffs are successful, Fort D will become a Civil War interpretive center in time for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Fort D is one of three surviving earthwork Civil War forts in Missouri. It is just east of Sprigg Street in south Cape Girardeau near the former Alma Schrader Elementary School. A stone building in the center of the fort was built long after the Civil War, but it has taken on historical significance of its own.

Members of the Civil War Roundtable, a group that delves seriously into the history of the Civil War era, have begun to clean up the 3-acre Fort D site. The group estimates it will take another $60,000 or more to turn the fort into a first-rate tourist attraction.

The fort was part of a four-fort protection arrangement for Cape Girardeau. The other forts were known as A, B and C. One of them was on the hill where Academic Hall now stands on the Southeast Missouri State University campus. Another was on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River at the dead end of what is now Bellevue Street.

Aside from some bronze markers put up by the Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau many years ago, there is little to tell residents or visitors of the important role the city played during the Civil War.

Hats off to those who recognize both the need to preserve an important part of our past and the attraction history has on tourism.

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