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Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island

4.5
#2 of 10 in Things to do in Dauphin Island
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.
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Fort Gaines Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
486 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Great piece of history but self guided tour needs better information on stops. A little pricey as well.  more »
  • We arrived at 4:15 and it closes at 5. We were able to see most everything, but we did go a little more quickly than if we had arrived earlier. This place has so much history, and there are a lot of....  more »
Google
  • 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.

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