When you're spending all of your time at modern Fort Morgan beach houses or pristine stretches of secluded coastline, it can be easy to forget that you are surrounded by many historic sites. While the nearby spot of Fort Morgan may be atop your list of must-see attractions, you shouldn't pass up a chance to visit Fort Gaines. Located on Dauphin Island, this historic fort is home to stunning views, historic artifacts and plenty of informational exhibits that give visitors a glimpse into the past.
The fascinating history
Established in 1821, Fort Gaines was named for Edmund Pendleton Gaines and has stood watch over Mobile Bay for decades. Although Fort Morgan receives a lot of attention for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War, Fort Gaines also played an integral part of that conflict. Today, this fort is widely considered to be one of the best-preserved historic military spots, so anyone eager to learn about the history of the Gulf Coast should be sure to plan a trip.
Shoreline erosion has landed Fort Gaines on the list of the Most Endangered Historic Sites in America, but there are still plenty of exhibits and displays that will delight visitors. Don't miss the large anchor that was once on the USS Hartford - one of the battleships present during the Battle of Mobile Bay - or the original cannons used during the battle. Also worth a look are some of the original buildings and tunnels on the site, which date back to before the Civil War.
You can learn more about the history of the fort and the area with a stop at the museum. If those displays pique your interest, be sure to head to the gift shop, where you can find a souvenir to take home as well as books and other materials about the fort's history.
Visiting Fort Gaines
Fort Gaines is certainly worth a visit, but you have to get to Dauphin Island first. Some travelers prefer to drive from the mainland, but those who want a more scenic route can instead hop aboard the Mobile Bay Ferry. Running between the Fort Morgan area and Dauphin Island, this method of transportation offers travelers and their vehicles an easy and enjoyable way to get across the bay.
Once visitors are on Dauphin Island, it is relatively easy to stop by Fort Gaines. The facility is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the busy summer season of June through August, those hours are extended to 6 p.m. Large groups can arrange to have tours, but appointments must be made in advance. You can also use your mobile phone to access an audio tour, which provides nuggets of information regarding 12 sites around the fort.
The fort is wheelchair accessible. Anyone with questions about visiting or those who would like to set up a tour can contact the office at 251-861-6992.