Tag Archives: Fort Gaines

Masonry fort problems

This Hurricane Season has been surely one for the record books, with 26 storms logged– one of which, Delta (they have run out of names and are now using the Greek alphabet), is currently tracking for my location by the end of the week. It will be the fifth that has had my neighborhood in its sights this year.

Which brings us to an update on the old Third Period coastal forts in the Northern Gulf. Designed in the antebellum era just before the Civil War, in general, they sit on cypress rafts for foundations in the sand and climb above the dunes some 20-30 feet on layer after layer of locally-produced red brick, with walls up to five-feet thick at some points

Although most proved ultimately less than formidable during the War Between the States and were often given a second chance on life in the 1890s after being retrofitted with concrete batteries holding steel breechloaders, the Army finally abandoned them by the 1940s, at which point they were as obsolete as lines of pikemen.

Nonetheless, these old brick forts, none of which are newer than 1866, endure against everything mother nature can throw at them. We have already covered the damage from Hurricane Sally to Fort Gaines on Mobile Bay’s Dauphin Island.

A similar update has been posted last week by its larger companion fortification across the Bay, Alabama Point’s Fort Morgan.

“Due to the damages and flooding sustained in hurricane Sally, Fort Morgan State Historic Site is closed to all visitors until further notice,” says the Fort.
“Hurricane Sally was the fourth tropical system to hit Ship Island this year. Tropical Storm Cristobal damaged the ferry pier in June and Laura and Marco buried the cross-island boardwalk in several feet of sand in August. Following damage assessments, it is clear the island’s facilities will not be able to reopen this season,” says the Gulf Islands National Seashore of Fort Massachusetts, on Ship Island off of Gulfport, MS.
“After the storm, there were several inches of standing water in Fort Pickens. The water has since receded, and National Park Service archeologists are assessing the fort for damage,” says the GINS of Fort Pickens in Pensacola’s Santa Rosa Island.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Fort Pike, in coastal Lousiana near the Rigolets pass off Lake Borgne, have recently posted a drone overflight. After Hurricane Isaac in 2012, the fort was closed indefinitely pending repairs and debris cleanup. The fort was re-opened to visitors following Isaac but closed again in February 2015 due to state budget cuts. It has since been battered by several storms this year.

Sally Update

Well guys, made it through the latest hurricane. Sally’s eye passed within about 40 miles of me. No serious damage here to report. Thank you all for your good wishes.

However, I have lots of friends on Dauphin Island/Gulf Shores that have suffered greatly from the storm, which passed directly overhead at an agonizing 2 knots. Trying to help out there as much as I can in the coming weeks through volunteering, fundraising et. al.

As you may know, I grew up spending summers in GS, set my zombie novel series there, and have a variety of personal connections to the Mobile Bay forts (Gaines and Morgan). Lot of sadness across the Bay this week.

For you history buffs, Fort Gaines has a variety of pictures posted of the damage there. While the 170~ year-old masonry and 120~ year-old portland concrete batteries are still ticking, it looks like the more recently installed roofing and wooden casemate doors have taken a beating while the Gulf has come in and will likely take weeks to fully drain away.