Discovering Historic Fort Morgan
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach
Relaxing on the pristine white sandy beaches or sampling some of the finest seafood cuisine are certainly some of the key reasons why Gulf Shores is such an attractive destination. However, you may not be familiar with Alabama’s coastline being an historic hub primarily due to the location of the “Guardian of the Bay,” also known as Fort Morgan.
Location and Admission
Situated 20 miles from the heart of downtown Gulf Shores along Highway 180, Fort Morgan may be in a remote location but I can attest to the journey along this stretch of coastline being extremely scenic. If you would prefer to really enhance your experience, why not hop on the Mobile Bay Ferry at Dauphin Island and cruise over to the port just outside the admission gates at Fort Morgan.
Admission to Fort Morgan is just $7 for adults and includes a self-guided tour (guided tours are available in June and July twice daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) of this historic site and accompanying museum. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dating back to the start of the 19th Century, Fort Morgan has been a key defense fort in a number of historic battles including the Civil War, Battle of Spanish Fort and more recently the two World Wars.
Throughout the years, Fort Morgan has taken severe bombardment from various artilleries, yet has still remained strong and nowadays displays fortifications from numerous significant encounters.
Stereotypical of military design during this era, Fort Morgan symbolizes much more than just the nucleus for Mobile Bay’s defense. Instead it provided Alabama’s Gulf Coast with hope that they would survive the onslaught of attacks and to this day we are able to walk the sacred grounds that helped shape this stretch of coastline.
Touring the Fort Morgan Site
Whether you are interested in seeing the casemates or the various batteries that are still standing, taking a walk around Fort Morgan’s historic site is a rewarding experience. I am not a history enthusiast but after touring this site, I left with a much higher appreciation of how this location proved to be so iconic in a number of key battles throughout history.
As you pass through the admission gates and approach the museum, there are a number of noticeable landmarks worth exploring before you step inside the fortified walls. Examples of American artillery such as canons are scattered around the site along with Battery Schenck, which provided defensive coverage of the minefield in the Mobile Bay shipping channel.
Take a walk through the long tunnel that leads you into the main Fort Morgan site. I recommend pausing while in the tunnel and taking a moment to reminisce on the history that has taken place on this battleground. An eerie silence echoes through the tunnel but does provide a moment of solitude as you reflect on all the lives that were lost during the many heroic battles.
Passing through the ‘Sallyport’ entrance, we noticed the vast magnitude of the star-shaped Fort Morgan. The remnants of the arched shaped casemates are prevalent here, a living memory of the protected gun positions. Battery Duportail and Battery Thomas are both concrete gun positions built towards the latter end of the 19th century, providing the primary defense mechanisms of Fort Morgan. The five corners of the fort, known as ‘Bastions’ were each installed with cannons to provide additional defense against any attacks across the surrounding moat.
Why not climb the steep staircases that surround the pentagon shaped fort for breathtaking views across Fort Morgan and distant Mobile Bay area. Ensure you give yourselves a couple of hours at least to explore all of Fort Morgan’s grounds. Many of the archways and casemates lead to potentially hidden gems that are still uncovered and maybe you will be fortunate enough to discover a piece of history that is still untouched!