Just thirty minutes away from the peace and beauty of Gulf State Park sits a retired military site rich with history, Fort Morgan. Fort Morgan is an Alabama State Historic Site, and its story begins with the War of 1812 and continues through the end of World War II. A couple years after World War II ended, in 1947, Fort Morgan was turned over to the state of Alabama to be used as an historical site.
We took a self guided tour through the fort, using the brochure to absorb as much of its history as possible. I won’t try to recreate the history lesson here. Rather, just confer to you, two facts about the fort which struck me, a bit deeper, if you will.
One was the fact that the fort was originally built using slave labor. The U.S. government had a “slave lease contract” with slave owners in the area.
These men, women, and children manufactured over 30,000,000 brick and the mortar as well. At its height, over 200 enslaved persons labored either on Mobile Point or within the brick yards and mortar kilns along the bay.Fort Morgan Site Brochure
A second fact also stuck in my gut.
March-July 1837 – Three thousand five hundred Muscogee natives were removed from the interior of Alabama and sent to the fort to await transport to Arkansas. Ninety-three people perished from disease and exposure to extreme climates.Fort Morgan Site Brochure
Additionally, I would be remiss with my history-loving, blogging friends if I didn’t mention that during the Great Depression, the fort was repaired and some buildings removed as a result of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Project Administration, the WPA. But, you already knew that, didn’t you, Suzassippi?
Fort Morgan is also right near the Mobile Bay Ferry. This ferry crosses Mobile Bay from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island (and back.) Across the Bay, opposite Fort Morgan, sits Fort Gaines. However, I have a personal limit of one fort per trip. Fort Gaines will remain on the agenda to visit another day.
And finally, I’ll mention that the Nature Center at Gulf State Park, offered one hour program about Fort Morgan discussing its history and showing certain artifacts. Unfortunately, we didn’t attend this program, but it would be an enriching activity to do before actually visiting the fort.
While Fort Morgan is no longer an active military operation, we did see one guard keeping the peace. Let’s hope it stands.