Gulf Shores Got Its Start as a Fishing Community
The area began as a fishing community that dated back to the early 1800s. Actually, even after incorporation and growth, the town remained a seasonal tourist attraction. Shops, cafes and restaurants sprang up, but the town would be virtually deserted during the winter and fall months. The fishing and shellfish industries employed most of the area until as recently as the 1970s.
You Have a Shrimp Festival to Thank for the Extra Business
Trying to drum up more business and bring in more visitors, the local fishing community organized the National Shrimp Festival in 1971. The festival has now become a national tourist attraction with upwards of 200,000 people in attendance over a four-day extended weekend in October. The festival now includes live music, art showings and, of course, a lot of shrimp.
Orange Groves Used to Be a Common Sight
The orange and citrus groves are the namesake of nearby Orange Beach. Fishing has a leading role in the region’s history, but so does farming. In the 1920s, a salesman brought orange tree seedlings infected with blight to the area and wiped out the groves.
The Area was Fought Over Four Times in 100 Years
In a little over 100 years, the Mobile Bay area transferred hands four times. Natives to the bay area included members of the Mabila tribe, who lived upriver from the head of the bay, and after whom the bay is named. The Spaniards came to the bay in the 1500s, but the French took it over 200 years later, only to surrender it to the British at the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. The British then lost it back to the Spanish, who in turn were routed by the U.S. military in 1813.