“Fall Break.” Ahhhh. Just saying those words to a teacher brings relief. A few sacred days of time off to reflect and refresh. Relaxation and “a happy place” are different for everyone. My version is a few days away anywhere exploring with an old ‘82 Airstream Sovereign behind my husband’s red Ford truck.
We typically aren’t what you’d refer to as beach people, but we love the food. So we set out for a campground at Gulf Shores. I-- being the perpetual explorer and learner -- had to persuade my family to add a little education to the trip by making a stop at Fort Morgan.
We met Fort Morgan on Columbus Day, Monday, October 8 just a few steps ahead of Hurricane Michael. Flags waved sharply in the wind to greet us as if to say, “we’ve seen bigger winds than this before.” Five flags have waved over Fort Morgan in its 199-year history: Spanish, French, British, American, the Republic of Alabama, the Confederate States, and the State of Alabama.
With our self-guided tour booklet in hand, we set about exploring the pentagonal-shaped fort built mostly by slave labor. As I wandered through, the science teacher in me couldn’t help but be amused by the stalactites being formed from chemical reactions with mortar used all those years ago. This fort has withstood, though weathered by time and several wars; as the fort was used during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, and WWII.
When moving throughout the structures on the ground, you can feel an eerie feeling and can’t help but think of the many lives changed and lost within these walls. Being a teacher of Alabama history, I was aware of the hopes that many people of Mobile placed on the fort as the first line of protection from an approaching Union naval forces. As I sat and soaked in the view of the choppy waters below. I imagined what those waters looked like on August 5, 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay.
Fort Morgan remains a place keeping history alive to those brave enough to walk the dark tunnels and scale the steep steps. An on-site museum holds many relics of the history of those men and women who called the fort home. Mark this on your itinerary the next time you are at the Gulf. You won’t be disappointed!
** On a side note when we left the Gulf State Campgrounds, two red flags waved us goodbye. Hurricane Michael was expected to touch the shores of the Gulf on Wednesday. We met many on our trip home evacuating from the forecasted category 3 storm. Our thoughts and prayers remained with our friends on the Gulf.