June 13, 2017 – Rainsville, Fort Payne, Cedar Bluff, Centre, Heflin, Roanoke, Lanett and Daviston, Alabama
I had a great time today. I drove one Scenic byway in its entirety and part of another one. I started out in Rainsville where there was a giant prospector sitting on top of a building. The next stop was in next door neighbor Fort Payne where there is a station wagon impaled into the side of an auto parts store. Its license plate is Jesus.
Cedar Bluff is the location of a cold blast furnace which made pig iron for the Confederate States. This was sent to Rome, Georgia where armaments were forged for Confederate soldiers. It was partially destroyed by Sherman in 1864. It was rebuilt in 1867 but ceased operation permanently in 1874. There is not much of it left today.
The Weiss Lake Lodge in Centre has 3 big fish in front of it. There is a crappie, a bass and a bream. The lodge is across the highway from the lake where there were lots of people fishing. So, the big fish are quite appropriate for the area. Also in Centre is the grave of John Pratt who invented the typewriter.
From there I got on the Talladega Scenic Byway. This was a wonderful drive which was nice and curvy – just the way I like mountain roads. Cheaha Mountain is about midway of the drive. It is the highest point in Alabama at 2,407’. Cheaha is a Creek Indian word for “high place”. The lodge and Bunker Tower were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. I didn’t stop at the crest where these are located as I was enjoying the drive too much to stop.
When I left the Talladega route, I was on Route 49 which is also marked as a scenic byway although I don’t remember the name of it. This route runs through the valley at the base of the mountains. In Roanoke, I saw the gas station which looks like an elephant. It was originally a rocky seaside cliff with lighthouse on top. It was on US Highway 22 which used to be known as the Florida Short Cut. Tourists would stop at the stoplight, see the weird building, pull in to take pictures, buy refreshments and fill up with gas. The building was modified over the years so that now it looks like an elephant.
Perhaps the strangest sight of the day is the Playhouse Grave of Little Nadine Earles. She wanted a playhouse for Christmas, but she died on December 18th. Her parents had the playhouse placed around her tombstone. They placed her toys and other belongings inside.
The most interesting thing of the day was the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. This is the site of the decisive battle which ended the Creek Indian War. As white settlers moved into the Southeast in the early 19th century, conflicts increased between the new arrivals and resident Native Americans. Within the Creek (also known as Muscogee) people, the Red Stick faction violently opposed European ways and assimilation.
On March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson led a force of white and allied Indian soldiers against a Red Stick group who had camped within a horseshoe-shaped bend of the Tallapoosa River. The attackers suffered 49 dead and 154 wounded while more than 800 of Red Stick’s followers, about 1,000 warriors, lost their lives. This is the largest number of Native Americans killed in any single battle in American history. The Battle broke the power of the Creek Nation which was forced to cede about 20 million acres – most of today’s Alabama and Georgia – to the US. This was the treaty signed at Fort Jackson in August, 1814.
In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected the 7th president of the US. This was partly because of his fame which resulted from this battle.
As I was heading home, I passed the Haunted Chicken House which evidently is a local Halloween tradition. I’m not sure why hearses and chickens are displayed together, but they are. One hearse is buried half in the ground while most of the rest of the hearses are stacked on one another with chickens perched on top of them.
It was a fun, if long, day. Anytime I can drive mountain roads, I’m happy.