By Kelly Baughman

While the Gulf Coast of Alabama is most known for its emerald green water and sugary white sand, it has a dark side as well that was once soaked in the blood of slaves, soldiers, and those unfortunate enough to become some of the spirits that still haunt the historic landmarks all over the area.

One of the most haunted places on the Gulf Coast is undoubtedly Fort Morgan, the historic masonry fort that’s located along the Gulf Coast at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama.  A lonely and ominous looking place surrounded by the sound of crashing water.

Located at the far West end of Highway 180, construction on Fort Morgan began in 1819 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was known as the “Work on Mobile Point” until it was named for Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan shortly before its completion in 1834.

The star shaped fort that was once hailed as the “finest example of military architecture in the new world”, has a long history with war and death.  While the Fort faced battles in the Civil War, World War I and World War II, during the Battle of Mobile during the Civil War, Fort Morgan experienced heavy fire and was ultimately set ablaze by the Union, resulting in numerous deaths of Confederate soldiers.

Visitors to the Fort say that they have experienced hearing voices echo throughout the dark hallways, reports of shadowy people, strange mists, noises, and an oppressive feeling of dread that descends, often right before the appearance of a male apparition seen in period appropriate attire roaming in the distance protecting the Fort’s perimeter.  

One of the most paranormally active places in the Fort are the old barracks, where a bomb went off in 1863 killing many men in fiery agony and in 1917 a prisoner hung himself.  Visitors to the Fort say you get an eerie, hair raising feeling, and can still hear the screams of the soldiers in the night.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing of the ghost tales that have been told in regards to Fort Morgan is that of Lt. Col. Charles Stewart, commanding officer of Fort Morgan from 1862-1863.  Stewart, wanted to test the strength of his forts heavy caliber cannons after a rumor that a new fleet of Union ships were about to attempt to take Mobile in a sneak attack.  

While testing the cannons himself, one of the 32 pound cannon balls had been mistakenly filled with twice the gun powder needed, causing the cannon to explode into hundreds of pieces.  Stewart was struck in the head with a 200 pound fragment of the cannon, severing his head.  

Local legend says Stewart still roams the grounds of the fort, and for years, visitors have reported seeing a headless figure in the distance through the fog.  

Another of Fort Morgan’s legendary tales revolves around a young woman who people say still roams the grounds in search of justice.  According to legend, the woman was drug into the fort in the 19th century by some of the men stationed there.  Once inside the walls and unable to escape, the men murdered the woman.

People say that the woman cries throughout the night and searches for someone who will set her free from within the fort walls.  Some say that she may even reach out and touch you or even appear in one of your photos.

The historic site has been ranked #3 on the most haunted places in Alabama by www.hauntedrooms.com, and as one of the top 100 most haunted places in the south by Paranormal Investigations Magazine.  Once you visit Fort Morgan for yourself, there’s no doubt you’ll become a believer in the ghosts that call it home.  

This Halloween season, don’t miss your chance to come face to face with history.  The grounds, Fort, beach and fishing areas are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, and the museum and gift shop is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Admission for Adults is $7, Seniors and Students are $5, children are $4, and children under 6 are free.

For those who think they are brave enough to stay overnight when the ghoulish inhabitants come out to play the most, the Fort can be rented out after hours for $500 from dusk until dawn.

For more details on Fort Morgan or to check for availability for special events or afterhours reservations, visit www.fort-morgan.org or call 251-540-5257.