Jake and I are on vacation. We left North Carolina on Wednesday to spend a week and a half in Alabama, where Jake is from, on the Gulf of Mexico. Today, after swimming for several hours and getting incredibly sunburnt, we decided to drive down to Fort Morgan and look around. Shortly after we arrived we found that we had chosen the 150th anniversary (to the day) of the fort’s surrender to the Union Army during the United States’ Civil War to visit. Now, I’m not particularly enthralled by US history, I just never had much interest in it in school and beside a few interesting trivia bits about the formation of the government and the history of Washington, DC it’s not really my thing. However, it was pretty neat to find out that we had surreptitiously chosen to visit on the anniversary of such an important milestone in the history of the fort itself.
I will admit to having never heard of Fort Morgan in school while growing up. In Virginia there’s a lot greater focus on Richmond and Arlington than Mobile, Alabama. But Jake and his sister, having grown up in Alabama, knew enough about it to be excited. And excitement is contagious.
The small museum on the site has some pretty interesting displays, including an early US military dress uniform that borrows heavily from Prussia. What I found interesting is that the fort has a much longer history than just the Civil War. It was reactivated in both World War One and World War Two due to its strategically significant position near the mouth of the Mobile Bay. In World War Two, Mobile was home to one of the largest shipbuilding efforts in the country making it extremely important to the war effort. The fort was also reactivated during World War One to house a training facility and receiving station for the nation-wide Morse Code Network, its call letters were WUR. Despite having been occupied and abandoned by the US military several times during its history, the site is in pretty remarkable condition—in my, completely unqualified, opinion—and in 1960 was added to the National Register of Historic Places as an Historic Landmark.
It was ~104°F outside today and, in addition to playing Ingress on site for a bit, we took a few really neat pictures while trying to outlast the heat. Recently Jake has gotten into using the PhotoSphere app from Google and he put it to good use at Fort Morgan. (You’ll be able to tell which photos were shot with the application below, trust me.)
While I am all about museums, I haven’t been to many of our National Historic Landmarks and Places, especially not Civil War era landmarks. I had a lot of fun walking around and looking at the structures. I was surprised and impressed by the striking similarities between middle ages castle defense technology and the civil war era defense technology. The fort has what look like murder holes in some of the gates and openings for riflemen very similar to arrowslits. Good ideas stand the test of time, I guess. I was also kind of amazed at how close to shore the oil platforms are down here. (You can see them in the distance at the beach we were at this morning, but there’s one practically right next to the fort.)
Overall, today was an amazing day and I really enjoyed going to Fort Morgan, even if I keep confusing the name with Fort Monroe every time I talk about it. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by and looking around.