Trip Planner:   USA  /  Alabama  /  Dauphin Island  /  Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island

Historic Site · Tourist Spot
Fort Gaines is an historic fort on Dauphin Island, Alabama, United States. It was named for Edmund Pendleton Gaines. Established in 1821, it is best known for its role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War.

Exhibits include the huge anchor from USS Hartford, Admiral David Farragut's flagship on which he gave his world-famous command, "Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!" The fort also has the original cannons used in the battle, five pre-Civil War brick buildings in the interior courtyard, operational blacksmith shop and kitchens, tunnel systems to the fortified corner bastions, and similar features. A museum details the history of this period, as well as the French colonial presence beginning in the late 17th century. The fort was partially modernized for the Spanish–American War. It is a tourist destination with tours and historical reenactment events. The site is considered to be one of the nation's best-preserved Civil War era masonry forts and has been nominated for listing as a National Historic Landmark.

Significant masonry damage had been sustained during hurricanes and tropical storms in the past decade. Though this damage has been largely repaired, the fort continues to be under threat from erosion. The fort sits on the east end of Dauphin Island, only feet from the Gulf of Mexico. Ongoing erosional losses of sand dunes and beach total up to 10 feet per year. For these reasons, the Civil War Preservation Trust placed Fort Gaines on its History Under Siege listing on March 18, 2009. The listing identifies the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields in the United States. Additionally it was placed on the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2011.
Make Fort Gaines a part of your Dauphin Island vacation plans using our Dauphin Island day trip planner.
Improve this listing »
Create an itinerary including Fort Gaines
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors

Fort Gaines reviews

Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
501 reviews
  • Very pretty place that is rich in history and in learning. Well worth a trip there, and lots of stuff to do on the island as well!  more »
  • Great historic location to visit while on Dauphin Island. It is shameful the state of Alabama does not help fund the place, so locals should petition Alabama state politicians to throw some money at....  more »
  • We were here once before just as they were about to close and thought perhaps from the quick view it was just a bunch of "old ruins" that you could just walk around in. Well, we were wrong! The...  more »
  • A fun place to visit to explore US history. It doesn't take long to walk through the whole place. They have an air conditioned museum on the property and a gift shop. There are bathrooms within the fort (you have to pay to get in though). There are some cool tunnels and underground rooms you can explore if you are adventurous. Be careful to bring water and watch the heat. Good place to take your time and spend an hour or two at.
  • Great place for the history buff. It has a self guided tour but if you have a good grasp of history and a fair imagination, you can feel yourself drifting back in time when the ships were off shore trying to break through Mobile Bay. The Fort has been restored nicely and has a great view of the bay to top off the experience. Well worth taking the ferry from Ft. Morgan to Dauphin Island.
  • The way that they have this wonderful historical site set up is genius. Instead of having a tour guide lead a group of people around awkwardly, you get to guide yourself. They give you a map with numbers that correspond with paragraphs that explain the history of whatever you are looking at. You can go in whatever order you want to and just enjoy yourself without having to be shuffled through like cattle. The most incredible part is how well kept up everything is. It's a lot better shape than I would have expected. The small museum inside is really impresssive and has several small pieces of history to learn about. The gift shop is really nice too. If I could give this place 6/5 stars, I would. It is definitely a place that everyone in the family could enjoy!
  • We were here for the demonstrations and they were great and informative. Walking around the fort was hot but still educational. Not the best fort that we've been to but the demonstrations were the best part.
  • If you love history, especially Civil War history, this is a great place. The fort's in really great shape and visitors can get an excellent idea of how life was for those who served here. Nice, albeit small, gift shop. No food served here.

Plan your trip to Dauphin Island

  • Get a personalized trip
    A complete day by day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it
    Refine your trip. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it
    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it
    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.