The present-day visitor to Fort De Soto can walk through the area where many buildings once stood, and imagine life on the post. The original building foundations have been located by volunteers and park staff using the 1911 blueprints. The footers or brick piers that you see along the trail were reconstructed on the original foundations by the park staff and boy scouts working on their eagle projects. These foundations were buried in the sand and required excavation before the brick piers could be reconstructed. The brick road and portions of the concrete curbs and sidewalks are original.
Post buildings were constructed between early 1900 and 1906. There were 29 buildings including a 100-foot-long barracks, a hospital, a stable, a guardhouse, a shop for blacksmiths and carpenters, an administration office, a mess hall and kitchen, a bakehouse, and a storehouse. There were brick roads, concrete sidewalks, and narrow-gauge railway tracks for moving materials around the post.
The buildings are gone now, but many photographs remain. Some examples:
All of the buildings were wood with slate roofs. The total cost of the post structures amounted to $120,674.55. This did not include the expense of the water and sewer systems. The water for the post was pumped from an artesian well (500 feet deep, with a capacity of 150 gallons per minute) into a 60,000-gallon tank, elevated 75 feet, and distributed through pipes to the various buildings. This water was only used for bathing, flushing toilets, and other such activities. Water for drinking was supplied by thirteen tanks, or cisterns. Each tank had a capacity of 6,000 gallons. The system was installed in 1901 and cost $17,754. The post had a modern sewer system, which drained into the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay through 6- and 8-inch pipes, and was installed at a cost of $3,426.