Are you a history enthusiast and want to check out what’s interesting in our area’s past? You are in luck! Keep reading for the perfect guide to exploring bygone times on the Alabama Gulf Coast!
Damn the Torpedoes! Full speed AHEAD!
I bet you’ve heard that statement somewhere before and never knew it origin. Well, you can discover all about General Farragut and his now famous battle cry while visiting the Mobile Bay Civil War Trail. This includes Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, Blakely State Park, Magee Farm and the History Museum of Mobile. Two of the stops on this trail, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, are easily accessed when staying in our area.
You’ll find this historic location at the end of Fort Morgan road in Gulf Shores and we must say it’s worth the drive. The current fort “is a third System masonry fort built between 1819 and 1833. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August 1864. Used intermittently through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, the site showcases the evolution of seacoast fortifications and adaptations made by the U.S. Army for the defense of the country. In 1946 the site was turned over to the State of Alabama as a historic site.”
OH, and while you are at Fort Morgan, you can catch the ferry across to our next destination on the trail.
This stronghold is the partner fort to Fort Morgan, standing just 3 miles apart. “The well-preserved ramparts of Fort Gaines have guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay for more than 150 years. Now a historic site, the Fort stands at the eastern tip of Dauphin Island where it commands panoramic views of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Fort was recently designated as one of the Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites in America due to on-going shoreline erosion.”
Other historic sites to visit during your stay:
Gulf Shores Museum:
This could be the perfect place to begin your venture into yesteryear as it’s full of area history and admission is free. “The house dates to before World War II and began as the beach house of Valerie Cole’s family from Mobile. Originally located on West Beach, it was donated to the city following Hurricane Frederic in 1979. The building has been in use by the city since 1982, first as the library, then as the youth center.”
Swift-Cole Historic Home:
One of the best ways to discover more about days gone by is to see how people of that era and area lived. A perfect example of that would be the Swift-Cole Home. “The original home was built in 1882 by Thomas Gavin as a 4-room cabin. Charles & Susan Swift purchased the cabin in 1898 and moved in with their eight children in 1900. As the family grew, they added the west wing and then the entire upstairs by 1910, making it a total of 6000 sq ft home with 3000 sq ft of porches. Nik Coles bought the home in 1976 and during his many years in residence, filled it with numerous antiques from around the world. Before his death in 2007, he bequeathed the home to the Baldwin County Historic Development Commission. The home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum:
Venture further east to dive further into our area’s past. You’ll find the Indian and Sea Museum is a great place to visit. “The building that houses the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum was originally built in 1910 as a schoolhouse. It has served as a museum since 1995 and was moved to its present location in 1999. The Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum houses local artifacts and memorabilia relating to our Native American and fishing heritage. Families of early fisherman have donated supplies and collectibles that make us mindful of the challenges and achievements in the early days of our fishing industry.”
If you plan to venture out for a day trip, it should definitely include a visit to the “Mighty A”! There are very few areas that can boast having their own battleship permanently guarding their port but the Port of Alabama is one such place. “From its humble beginnings on February 1, 1940 as the keel was laid at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, Battleship USS ALABAMA (BB-60) has had a remarkable career. She began her World War II adventures in the North Atlantic in 1943, then later that year, went to the South Pacific seas. She ended up in Mobile, Alabama as a National Historic Landmark and memorial to millions.”
Every history buff will find the perfect place to quench their thirst for knowledge on the Alabama Gulf Coast! This is just the tip of the educational iceberg!
Historic Blakely State Park: https://www.blakeleypark.com
Fort Gaines: http://dauphinisland.org/fort-gaines/
Gulf Shores Museum: http://www.gulfshoresal.gov/356/Museum
Swift-Cole Historic Home: https://swiftcoleshistorichome.com
Orange Beach Indian and Sea Museum: https://www.orangebeachal.gov/facilities/indian-sea-museum/about