Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mobile Point Light at Fort Morgan Alabama

The history of the Mobile Point Light is intertwined with that of Fort Morgan. Alabama may have the shortest coastline of all the Gulf states, but it has the largest bay - Mobile Bay. During the war of 1812 the United States recognized the importance of this bay and took control during the war. In 1819, two years before ceded the region, work began on a fort to be constructed at Mobile Point the western most point of the peninsula that stretches across most of the bay. Completed in 1834, the fort was named Fort Morgan in honor of General Daniel Morgan a Revolutionary war hero.

The first of three lighthouses was completed on the point in 1822. The light was only visible 10 miles out at sea and ships had a difficult time detecting the beacon. The light was changed to flashing, but mariners were confusing it with the Pensacola Light. In 1858 a 200 foot tower was built on Sand Island three miles off shore from Mobile Point. The Mobile Point light was no longer needed as a landfall and was downgraded to a harbor light.

Upon the outset of the Civil War, Confederate troops took control of the fort. In August 1864, Admiral Farragut approached the entrance to the bay with 18 ships. After one of the ships hit a torpedo (at that time mines were referred to as torpedoes) Farragut gave his famous command "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". During this battle the light tower was damaged. Farragut won the battle but lost 7 ships during the conflict.

After the war, a temporary wooden tower was placed near the crippled lighthouse and the old brick tower was demolished. A second 30 foot iron structure was erected in 1873 along with a new keepers house. In 1963 a modern steel tower was erected (pictured below) and the small iron tower was cut from its base and ended up at a scrap metal company where it remained intact. When I visited Fort Morgan I was told that it was being refurbished and would eventually become part of the exhibit at the fort.

There are several oil platforms just off the beach at the fort. The smell of crude oil permeated the air and was very noticeable during the visit.

The massiveness of the fort was evident everywhere we walked. The brickwork was outstanding and a tribute to the folks who labored here. Following are several views around the fort.

Lastly, another view of the modern light tower,

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