The history of the Gulf Shores area can be traced back for many centuries. This is truly a story that is worth hearing as it tells of the generosity, team effort, and dedication that is commonly displayed throughout the city even today. The original settlers of coastal Alabama we the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Cherokee Native Americans. However, in the 1500s a group of traveling Spaniards came to the area known as Gulf Springs where they constructed the original Fort Morgan.
In the 1800s, Fort Morgan was rebuilt and played a critical role in the Civil War. Both Confederate and Union Naval forces fought to use the harbor entrance, which we still use today. Visitors can take a step back into time and enjoy a visit to both Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan. During October and May of each year Fort Gaines offers visitors the opportunity to see re-enactments of real battles that raged on in the area.
In 1937, the Intercoastal Waterway was completed causing an uprise in attraction to the area. Shortly after, in 1939, Gulf Shores State Park was opened. This drew visitors from all over to the area. Travel, Import, and Export opportunities made businesses grow from a small, fishing community into what was Gulf Shores. Forty years later, it was taken away.
In 1979, Hurricane Frederick hit Gulf Shores and caused serious devastation to the entire beachfront area. All of the businesses and communities on the beach had to be rebuilt. Once a vacation home in West beach for the family of Valerie Cole, the Gulf Shores Museum was moved to Gulf Shores after the hurricane. The home was donated to be used as a library, youth center, and now the Gulf Shores Museum. The site in which the museum now sits was land donated by Wade and Pat Ward, as well as Claude O'Connor. The steeple that is situated on the Gulf Shores Museum is just another example of the generosity found throughout the area. This steeple was donated by the Oyster Bay Baptist Church in 1999 offering a place to watch over the garden. Hurricane Frederick ignited a massive construction boom for condominiums, restaurants, and entertainment businesses. This is also the time in which it was decided that the town would become known as the City of Gulf Shores.
Other storms that have since cause damage to the Gulf Shores area include Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004. During the rebuilding process following this storm the area would be hit simultaneously Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Katrina which both took place in 2005. The amount of damages caused during these two storms was less severe than other areas along the coast that were affected. Today residents and business owners do not see any reminders of the storm except for the heighted storm protective barriers that have been incorporated into the area. People are free to enjoy the beaches, local art centers, retail outlets, parks, library, museum, and other interesting venues that are situated around the City of Gulf Shores. However, to fully appreciate all of the amenities that are found throughout the area understanding the city's rich history and culture are a necessity.