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A visit to the historic Fort Morgan can give vacationers a glimpse into the past.

Alabama's Fort Morgan, which sits at the entrance of Mobile Bay, played a key role in the Civil War. Years later, visitors can see this fascinating history up close with a trip to the fort and its museum, which stand today to provide a look into the past.

Discover area history at Fort Morgan

It's not unusual to find travelers who are drawn to Fort Morgan vacation rentals thanks to the privacy offered by the location. While the pristine beaches and stunning environment are part of the appeal of the area, many others make it a point to visit Fort Morgan to visit the actual military facility of the same name. This historic site has been transformed into a fantastic place for families to visit during their vacations to the area, so when you are staying along the Gulf Coast, make sure to leave room in your schedule for a trek to this fort. 

Guardian of the Bay

A visit to the historic Fort Morgan can give vacationers a glimpse into the past.Known as the "Guardian of the Bay," Fort Morgan was a coastal defense fort that served as the protector of the region throughout the 19th century. Construction began in 1819 when the federal government believed that military operations needed to be strengthened following the War of 1812. Work on the fort continued until it was formally named in 1833, and that marks the start of this star-shaped facility's rich history.

It was primarily dormant throughout the early part of its history, but when the action of the Civil War traveled south in the early 1860s, that all changed. Because of the fort's prime location at the entrance of Mobile Bay, it was believed to be an incredibly important military outpost, and two sides were willing to do whatever it took to seize control of the facility. 

During the Civil War 

The most fascinating period in the fort's history came during the Civil War, when Fort Morgan was being run by the Alabama Militia. They had upgraded much of the weaponry and defenses surrounding the fort in preparation of an attack by Union forces, which finally came to a head in the summer of 1864. 

Union Admiral David Farragut led his forces toward a siege of Fort Morgan in the early morning of Aug. 5, 1864. He commanded several warships to move into Mobile Bay and attack the fort, forcing the battleships to maneuver through an underwater minefield as part of a five-day march on the facility that would eventually become known as the Battle of Mobile Bay. Union troops finally managed to come ashore Aug. 9, and for the next two weeks they besieged Fort Morgan from all angles. The pressure proved to be too much for the facility to handle, and it was surrendered Aug. 23. 

In the decades after the Civil War, steps were taken to renovate Fort Morgan and update its features. It was briefly used again during the Spanish-American War and as a training base during World War I, but since being deactivated in 1923, Fort Morgan has been left as a marker of history. 

Visiting today

While its reputation may be rooted in the past, there are plenty of modern touches that make Fort Morgan a spectacular attraction today. The garrison was deactivated for good and turned over to Alabama in 1946, and since that time it has acted as a place of learning, reflection and discovery. 

Many visitors make it a point to visit Fort Morgan's museum. Inside that facility are remnants from the fort's history, including a rare Fresnel Lens that was once an integral part of the Mobile Bay Lighthouse. Other displays showcase items found on the site during the restoration process. 

One of the highlights of Fort Morgan is its living history program. This effort focuses on marking major anniversaries, such as that of the Battle of Mobile Bay, while also showing visitors highlights from all of the military periods seen by the fort. 

What you need to know

The museum is generally open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but the hours may change seasonally. To find the most recent times it is open to the public, call the office at 251-540-7127. 

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Looking to soak up some history as well as some sun while vacationing in the Gulf Shores region? Fort Morgan is a family-friendly destination that is steeped in military and U.S. history. Best of all, the grounds are located minutes from your Fort Morgan vacation rental.

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Everyone can benefit from a hands-on history lesson, and Fort Morgan provides just that for travelers staying in the area's vacation rentals. You can even pull up this guide on your smartphone as you navigate past each site and learn what it was like here for 19th-century troops.

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