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Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island

Historic Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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Fort Gaines is a 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.
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Fort Gaines reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
528 reviews
Google
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TripAdvisor
  • It is a must see if on Dauphin Island. Not crowded, plenty to see and in a great location. It gives an account of why the fort was built and is use in the Civil War. 
    It is a must see if on Dauphin Island. Not crowded, plenty to see and in a great location. It gives an account of why the fort was built and is use in the Civil War.  more »
  • Definitely a must see if you enjoy history. Very detailed and informative with a friendly staff. The museum was very interesting. 
    Definitely a must see if you enjoy history. Very detailed and informative with a friendly staff. The museum was very interesting.  more »
  • Go at your own pace place to visit, filled with history and artifacts. Affordable and a cute gift shop. Walking around and getting a feel for how things were at that time was really fun. 
    Go at your own pace place to visit, filled with history and artifacts. Affordable and a cute gift shop. Walking around and getting a feel for how things were at that time was really fun.  more »
Google
  • This was definitely worth the trip! Very interesting. So much history here. Tickets are 9$ for adults and 5$ for kids. Kids up to 4 years of age enter free. Make sure you have comfortable shoes and clothes on because you’ll do some climbing on steep stairs. The whole process took us about an hour and a half and you could easily spend longer (it was very hot day). The whole fort is build very interesting. Divided in to sections and very well planned. You see how the soldiers lived (beds made out of wood and ropes, just hand built wood chairs and tables, they even had on site welding area) the original officers quarters was 3 stories tall but only first floor standing due to upper floors were destroyed during Battle of Mobile bay. You can also see a copy of original written letters from soldiers to their family’s (heartbreaking because some never made it home).. If you have kids definitely take them on this tour! They need to see and learn the history while this is still standing.. Thank you for keeping it maintained and open to public!
  • Surprisingly cool little fort, definitely takes you back in time to what it was like to serve there during the 1800s. Overall it was very clean those showing some age (wood) and some rust, it had just rained, so it was pretty soggy with puddles all over the place. The ladies that worked up front were very nice, and it cost nine dollars for adults to enter. The little museum was really neat and I got to see Coast Guard helicopters do operations on the water while I was there. Definitely worth the visit 😊
  • Cool, Civil War era fort overlooking the gulf and Mobile Bay. Updated over the years until it became completely obsolete. You enter through the gift shop where you also purchase tickets. I'm spoiled where I come from cause most stuff like this is free or $5 or less to get in. So $9 felt steep. I did a pretty a pretty quick tour over about an hour, but if you stopped and read everything you could probably triple that time. Nice views over the ocean and you get a surreal feeling as you walk some of the tunnels knowing men garrisoned this place for over a 100 years. Part of that time during the Civil War. A cool experience. The museum isn't huge, but they pack a lot of stuff in. Minimal shade once you get inside the fort, so if it's a bright, hot day, plan accordingly. The museum is air conditioner if you need a respite.
  • We came down to explore Dauphin Island and thought this would be a fun place to check out. Really interesting history and you get some amazing views of the water. You can also see the Sand Island Lighthouse.
  • Fort Gains was an absolutely good time. The fort is still in good shape considering how old it is but do the recent hurricanes is in need of some restoration work. The money made here at the fort used to upkeep is provided by ticket sales and items sold in the gift shop. So please be sure to purchase something at the gift shop before you leave as your purchase helps secure history for many more years to come. Fort Gaines was an absolutely good time spent with family as we walked from location to location reading about what happened here in history and educating my children on why it's important to know your history Should you need a charitable donation to contribute to this year I highly encourage you to put Fort Gains on the top of your list. The staff here would be absolutely ecstatic to see funds rolling in to help restore the fort. Go have your picture taken with the cannons look out and see what was being protected put your hands on the pieces of a shipwreck for the mid 1800s . You can stand or cannonball struck the ground they were trying to destroy the fort. At Fort Gaines you help history to come alive for future generations to enjoy.

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