Turmoil at Sea, Old and New – Dauphin Island, AL

“Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead” Admiral Farragut, Aug 5th, 1864

Inside historic Fort Gaines. The anchor is from U.S.S Hartford, Admiral Farragut’s flagship.

It’s said that Admiral Farragut uttered these rousing words on Aug 5th, 1864 as his fleet, blocked by torpedo fields and under gunfire from Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan plunged ahead through the mouth of Mobile Bay to a key victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. It was one of the most notable naval battles of the Civil War and broke the Confederacy’s last major port stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico. The turmoil at sea  has long since been swept away with the tides, but its history remains recorded on the impressive Fort Gaines at Dauphin Island.

Biking the Western End of Dauphin Island

It’s just one of the many turmoils to have touched this place over the years. Dauphin Island is part of a chain of barrier islands in the Alabama Gulf, built up over ~20,000 years by the action of sea and wind depositing great big sandbars in the mouth of the bay. Given its precarious position at the very southern end of Mobile Bay its been the first line of defence for war (the French, Spanish and British have all claimed it’s shores), hurricanes (over 10 major storms have hit the place), and most recently the BP oil spill (we spoke to a recovery group who told us they still pick up over several hundred pounds of oil every few weeks).

The Ferry crosses Mobile Bay from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan

Despite all this the Island endures and is able to renew its beauty and resources. It’s one of 10 most important worldwide sites for bird migration, a bountiful fishing port (hosting 10 annual fishing rodeos and a 850 foot fishing pier) and provides over 7 miles of coastline. Economically it’s driven by tourism, fishing and the expansive natural gas fields (the largest in the continental United States) in Mobile Bay. It’s a unique spot with a rich and resilient history, and well worth the drive to where the sea, the winds and the land meet.

The Southeast Bastion of Fort Gaines points towards where the Union fleet assembled for its run into Mobile Bay.
The public boat ramp and afternoon view of Little Dauphin Island on Gulf Side of Mobile Bay
Early morning fishing
Endless coastline and blue sky
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  1. jil mohr says

    the ferry was not working when we were there due to hurricane damage that had not been fixed yet…we drove around to the fort though…neat place….and really if you can ever go back for the birding someday you will not be disappointed….even if you are not a birder!!!!!

    • libertatemamo says

      I have heard the birding is unbelievable. Will have to make a plan to come back and be here for the migrations. Nina

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