Tag Archives: Civil War site

One Old Fart in Five Old Forts

Milepost 3-27-15    Emerald Isle, North Carolina

A fortunate byproduct of our quest to live on southern islands and forever walk the beach this winter has been the close proximity of so many beautiful historical sites, especially old forts and lighthouses.

We spent January on Dauphin Island, Alabama, within walking distance of Fort Gaines, and five miles from Fort Morgan  just across Mobile Bay.

In February we were on Anastasia Island near the archaic Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine, Florida.

Heading from Florida to North Carolina we stopped for a week at Savannah, Georgia where we visited Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island in the Savannah River.

And in March we are on Emerald Isle, North Carolina, sharing the island with Fort Macon which we visited yesterday.

We are ending our winter sojourn in early April and heading back to Michigan, and  I wanted to post a photographic review of these historical attractions that offered us so much aesthetic intrigue  while wandering around the south this winter:

1.  Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama.  This fort was less than 1/4 mile from our campground.

Fort Gaines has long tunnels leading to the five corner bastions.  Cool.
Fort Gaines has long tunnels leading to the five corner bastions. Cool.
The bricklayers who built these forts were masters of their craft as seen in the intricately vaulted arches.
The bricklayers who built these forts were masters of their craft as seen in the intricately vaulted arches of the northeast bastion.
Though the interior buildings were burned during the Battle of Mobile Bay, the restorers have done a great job of rebuilding.
Though the interior buildings were burned during the Battle of Mobile Bay, the preservationists have done a great job of restoring and maintaining what was left..
Here's a gem I discovered hidden deep inside a chamber, a 10-seat latrine.
Here’s a gem I discovered hidden deep inside a chamber at the end of a long tunnel along the 4-foot thick outside wall, a 10-seat latrine.  Soldiers apparently didn’t have much privacy.

2.  Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, Alabama.

I loved the endless vaulted casements of Fort Morgan and the mineral deposits built up by the chemical action of rainwater percolating through the brick and mortar.
I loved the endless vaulted casemates of Fort Morgan and the mineral deposits built up by the chemical action of rainwater percolating through the brick and mortar.
Fort Morgan is a fort within a fort.  This view is from the tunnel through the postern (outer fort) viewing the entrance of the inner fort.
Fort Morgan is a fort within a fort. This view is from the tunnel through the postern (outer fort) viewing the entrance of the inner fort.
And this view is from the entrance tunnel in the inner fort toward the postern (outer fort).
And this rear view is from the entrance tunnel in the inner fort toward the postern (outer fort).

3.  Castillo de San Marco, St. Augustine, Florida (1565).  This one is really old and was built with local stone – coquina – before bricks were manufactured in the U.S.

Castillo de San Marcos sits on the waterfront downtown.
Castillo de San Marcos sits on the waterfront at downtown St. Augustine..
I loved the graceful grand stairway above its asymmetrical arch.
I loved the graceful grand stairway above its asymmetrical arch.
This fort had a great collection of cannons, some of the oldest ones I have seen.
This fort had a great collection of cannons, some of the oldest ones I have seen.
Although most of the forts have seasonal re-enactments, this one has costumed guides on hand every day.
Although most of the forts have seasonal re-enactments, this one has costumed historians on hand every day.

4.  Fort Pulaski, Cockspur Island, Savannah, Georgia.

Though the impervious nature of fort design leaves them looking nondescript and unwelcoming on the outside, this fort had an attractive inside archway.
Though the impervious nature of fort design leaves them looking nondescript and unwelcoming on the outside, this fort had an attractive inside archway.
While many forts are restored to their pre-war condition, this one was still covered with the scars of war.  Only the corner that had been breached during the Civil War was rebuilt like the original.
While many forts are restored to their pre-war condition, this one was still covered with the scars of war.  Only the corner that had been breached by the Union Army’s rifled cannons during the Civil War was restored to its original condition.
Fort Pulaski had several cannons installed at their original stations.
Fort Pulaski had several cannons installed at their original stations.
There were five stairways, one in each of the five corners of the fort.  Three of them were circular stairs.
There were five stairways, one in each of the five corners of the fort. Three of them were circular stairs.
...and the other two had their own unique designs.
…and the other two had their own unique designs.

5.  Fort Macon, Emerald Isle, North Carolina.

My favorite feature at Fort Macon was the three identical stairways built over graceful arches.
My favorite feature at Fort Macon was the three identical stairways built over graceful arches.
The smaller rear entrance was as interesting and beautiful as the front.
The smaller rear entrance was as interesting and beautiful as the front.
The arches and hidden stairways create interesting scenes as the light plays around them.
The arches and hidden stairways create interesting scenes as the light plays around them.
The approach to Fort Macon is a study in beautiful curves.
The approach to Fort Macon is a study in graceful curves.

Kaye and I have really enjoyed our southern sojourn and the side trips that have been available to us.  I love old architecture, so this was a great place for me to explore while avoiding the hostility of the northern winter.  This is the final post to the Southern Sojourn as we are heading back to our new summer home (campground) in Michigan soon.

There are more photos of these beautiful historical sites on my Flickr photo stream here.

And they are available for purchase as prints and other great gifts at my photo galleries and web store here.

The Seasonal Southern Shift

Milepost 1-3-15   Dauphin Island, Alabama                              70 degrees

Call it Snowbirding or Winter Migration or whatever, the population of the nation undergoes a significant redistribution twice a year.  Kaye and I are part of the northern exodus that accompanies the onset of cold weather in Michigan.  We stayed home long enough to have Christmas with the kids and grandkids, and then we hitched up the RV and set the GPS for the Alabama coast and took off.

On the way down, we stopped at Memphis Tennessee for a New Year’s Eve dinner of catfish and ribs at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Outside B.B. King's Blues Club the street was starting to fill with party-goers who were waiting for the midnight Guitar Drop.
Outside B.B. King’s Blues Club the street was starting to fill with party-goers who were waiting for the midnight Guitar Drop at the end of Beale Street..
BobnKaye at BB King's
A New Year’s Eve dinner at B.B. King’s Blues Club was an unexpected bonus for us.

Our first campsite of the trip and of the year was at Tom Sawyer RV Park on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River where the tugs were shoving the barges up and down the river all night long.

A third day of driving landed us at Dauphin Island Park a few miles off the coast of Alabama at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

Dauphin Island is surrounded with white sand beaches.  Oone of them a short walk from our campsite.
Dauphin Island is fringed with white sand beaches,  one of them a short walk from our campsite.
Our campsite is under a stately old live oak tree.
Our spacious campsite is under a stately old live oak tree.

Dauphin Island is the site of the historical Fort Gaines that saw action during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay (1864).   It’s open to the public and promises to be a great backdrop for some photography in a couple of days.  Across the bay is its counterpart,  Fort Morgan on another barrier island.

I'm looking forward to a wandering tour of Fort Gaines with the good camera.
I’m looking forward to a wandering tour of Fort Gaines with the good camera.

On the first day here I jumped on the bike and took off for a 6-mile ride.  This is one of the reasons Kaye and I like to get away from the north during the winter;  our exercise routine falls apart when the cold weather arrives.  At this southern island there are many miles of cycling trails and beaches to be explored.

All roads -- and bike trails -- lead to the beach at Dauphin Island.
All roads — and bike trails — lead from one beach to the next at Dauphin Island.

The island also is home to a nice Audubon sanctuary, although I think the terns and the pelicans may be outnumbered by snowbirds during the winter.

So this is our home for the month of January.  When we left the north it was 10 degrees.  Today it reached 70 here.  That’s what I’m talking about!  I haven’t slipped on snow or ice even once since arriving.

Bob at Dauphin Island beach 2502
I dug out my shorts and flip flops shortly after arriving and setting up camp not far from the beach..