We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Blakeley State Park. Actually, I got more than I bargained for.
It all started when
we stopped at the Welcome Center to get our "Self-Guide Tour" maps. Richard, the park ranger, and I got to talking about
local historical sites. As we talked, I discovered that Richard was a retired submariner and history buff who loved to
talk about the historical sites spread out in southern Alabama. About an hour later, we started our tour of the park.
Richard's knowledge of the park made the trip fantastic. Thank you, Richard!
Historic Blakeley State Park is located off Alabama 225, just 4.5 miles north of Spanish Fort, Alabama on the Tensaw River delta. The 3,800 acre park is bounded on the east by the highway and by the river to the west. Mobile, Alabama can be seen in the distance across the river.
The park was created in 1976 as a private not-for-profit foundation. The goal was to preserve and re-develop the area. In 1981 the Alabama Legislature named Blakeley a state park and created a separate state authority to oversee operations. Although it is called a state park and receives state funding, it is not operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
In 1993, Blakeley was named a Class A Civil War site by the United States Congress. The park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail due to it being the site of the Battle of Fort Blakely. Some effort is underway to restore the Confederate and Union constructs that supported the Battle of Fort Blakeley.
Some 4,000 years ago, this was the village of a thriving, prehistoric Indian civilization. Much later, in the 18th century it was the site of a French colonial settlement, and the civilized and educated Apalachee Indians lived here before making their tragic trek westward.
It was Josiah Blakeley's 1814 chartered town that gave the permanent name to the once thriving riverfront town. Settled by New Englanders, Blakeley played a dominant role in early Alabama history and development. Blakeley became Baldwin County's first county seat before yellow fever epidemics and greed killed the boom town. Little evidence remains today of the previous town of Blakeley. A few historical markers designate important locations such as brick kiln and an old oak tree used as a hanging tree for the local courts. A river crossing here once linked Mobile and Baldwin counties.
The last major battle of the Civil War, involving over 16,000 soldiers, was fought here, ending on the same day but after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee miles away in Virginia. African-American troops made up a significant number of the Union forces. Some remnants of battlefield operations remains including the Confederate Breastworks that cross the park. Some effort is underway to restore the Confederate and Union constructs that supported the Battle of Fort Blakeley.
Blakeley Cemetery is the resting place for a number of the original Blakely settlers, victims of yellow fever.
Camping, both primitive and RV camping is available year round. Group campsites are also available. Numerous picnic areas and over ten miles of hiking trails are found within the park. The park charges a fee for admission and for camping. A motorized launch takes guests on a tour of the delta region during warmer months.
The Park is open for day use visitors from 9 a.m. to dust seven days a week.
Blakely State Park
34745 State Hwy. 225
Spanish Fort, Alabama 36577