Review of “She’s Bound To Be A Goer”: Fairhope, Alabama and the Steamboats of Mobile Bay, 1894-1934, by Creighton C. “Peco” Forsman

28 Jun

Today Baldwin County, Alabama’s Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, a thriving tourist destination, and among Alabama’s most desirable locations for residence. It is therefore easy to forget that not too long ago, historically speaking, the area was an economic and cultural backwater, isolated from the rest of state owing to inadequate regional roads. A region of small farming and fishing communities, its lone reliable link to the regional population and trading center of Mobile across the bay was at one time provided by ferry boats running between the port city and places such as the emerging villages of Daphne, Montrose, Point Clear, and the experimental “single tax colony” of Fairhope. These “Bay Boats” have come to assume a unique place in the area’s history, as they are symbols of a formative era and played a key role in its economic development.

Published in 2014, Creighton C. “Peco” Forsman’s chronicle of the heyday of this regional form of transportation, “She’s Bound To Be a Goer”, is a valuable compilation of information on these boats, their captains, the routes they ran and the communities they served. Forsman’s work is drawn almost exclusively from meticulously researched historic newspapers and illustrated with a unique assemblage of photographs of boats, piers, passengers, and captains. The book brings to life a forgotten era which came to a sudden and unceremonious end with the construction of vehicular bridges between Baldwin County and Mobile in the 1920s. Even more importantly for those interested in the history of the Eastern Shore region, the book forms an unparalleled resource on a key, if admittedly narrow, aspect of the area’s past. The book is intensely local, and as such is likely to only have appeal to a limited audience. It is nonetheless a good piece of local history that will serve as an important reference resource for generations to come.

JMB

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