Haunting Fort Morgan, Alabama

To get to Fort Morgan, you must first drive through about twenty miles of tangled vegetation and sand dunes to the very end of a narrow spit of land that stands guard across Mobile Bay. The peninsula is hardly more than a sandbar at some points, and remote–defenseless against storm, salt, and southern sun. It is hard to imagine how hundreds of people worked and survived out here while the fort was under construction between 1819 and 1834.

Fort Morgan, Alabama
Entering Fort Morgan

Battles fought and lost…

While battles had been fought on this sand since the war of 1812, the Battle of Mobile Bay in the Civil War is the one the fort is most known for. Walking around, you can almost hear the footsteps of the soldiers as they run to load the cannons and brace for impact. The siege lasted from August 5 to August 23 of 1864. The walls of the fort still bear the scars of the cannons…

Fort Morgan was in service through WWI and WWII as well, but has been largely abandoned now for over half a century.

Fort Morgan Ruins and Salt
Salt formations on a mysterious bricked-over doorway in Fort Morgan

The fort is full of echoes–breezes–the sound of dripping water. Itย has suffered the ravages of two centuries of hurricanes, heat, and briney sea air. Years have woven moss, salt formations, weathered brick, and sand into a strange and colorful tapestry. The shadowy casemates of Fort Morgan sometimes open up into grassy courtyards or sometimes into dead ends.

Everything contributes to kind of an eerie ambiance.

Fort Morgan Sand and Shadows
Sand and shadows in Fort Morgan

A troubled history…

One room in particular felt ominous. The walls inside the room are covered in dark, sooty hand prints. One lone white hand print is eye-level on the interior face of the door. I couldn’t find any information about the origin of these hand prints on the internet, but one reviewer said they had been there since at least the 1970s. Common sense would say they’re just a bit of vandalism, but…..

Fort Morgan Mysterious Hand prints
Shadowy handprints on the walls of Fort Morgan

Let me just mention that the fort was constructed through leased slave labor. And the on-site museum contains artifacts from a freak cannon accident that blew a commander’s head to pieces (a twisted fragment of his upper denture remains on display)…and I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Courtyards at Fort Morgan
Courtyards at Fort Morgan

If you go to Fort Morgan….

Fort Morgan is open to the public from 8AM-5PM daily with admission of $7.00 per adult (discounts for kids, seniors, and veterans). A gift shop and museum is on the premises with A/C and water, but the fort itself is very open to the weather so come prepared!

 

Visiting Fort Morgan Alabama
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Visiting Fort Morgan Alabama
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Visiting Fort Morgan Alabama
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3 Free Things to Do in Sioux Falls + A Bonus

Last week I shared some of Sioux Falls restaurants with you. In between meals, though, there’s actually plenty to do in and around Sioux Falls, and a lot of it is free! Here are some of our favorite things to do and see in Sioux Falls…

Three Free Things to do in Sioux Falls

Fallsย Park is Sioux Falls’ landmark attraction. Surprisingly, it’s located near the heart of downtown. It is beautiful no matter the season, whether crashing over the rocks after a spring thaw or frozen into an abstract ice sculpture in the middle of winter. Check out the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill — it was destroyed many years ago in a fire, The Overlook Cafe will give you a great view and a place to sit down or get out of the weather if you need to!

Standing in front of the falls, Falls Park, Sioux Falls
Standing in front of the falls, Falls Park, Sioux Falls

Another highlight is the tower that’s part of the visitor center. You can climb up five stories and see the whole city.

I could tell you a funny story about that tower, but . . . I should probably wait till we’re better friends.

While you’re downtown, check out the Old Courthouse Museum. Free admission! Some say it’s haunted — it definitely has a little bit of an eerie feel with constant restoration going onย  — fading murals and crumbling plaster, that kind of thing — and there’s a sign outside documenting the hanging of an innocent man. The Pettigrew Museum is nearby, and full of curiosities from around the world and Native American artifacts.

The hanging of an innocent man, Sioux Falls
The hanging of an innocent man, Sioux Falls

Bonus time!

Palisade State Park Sioux Falls South Dakota
Palisade State Park, South Dakota

Our favorite thing about Sioux Falls, though, is kind of a secret. (Here’s the bonus!) Less than half an hour northeast of town, you’ll find Palisades State Park. A river runs through it (sorry, was that a bad pun?) and formed a totally unexpected rocky canyon. It’s not a huge park and the trails are pretty short, but it will definitely get you out of the city for an afternoon.

I lived in Sioux Falls for 2.5 years, and somehow I didn’t manage to see everything I wanted to! Someday we’ll have to get back there and hit the Strawbale Winery, Japanese Gardens, and Sertoma Butterfly House. If you go to any of these, tell me about them in the comments!

What’s your favorite thing to do in Sioux Falls?

3 Free Things Sioux Falls

3 Free Things Sioux Falls