Florence Journals

The Shoals of Alabama

A March 2006 trip to Florence by NiteOwlTX

Alabama Music Hall of Fame Photo, Florence, Alabama More Photos
Quote: The Quad-Cities of Alabama, collectively called the Shoals, include Florence, Muscle Shoals, Shefield, and Tuscumbia.

The Shoals of Alabama

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Overview

Tuscumbia Train Depot Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
Historically, this area is significant as a stopping point on the Trail of Tears, the forced march that the government made Native Americans take to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). This was called the Trail of Tears as a high percent of the Indians that started it did not make it to Oklahoma. Here, Indians from further east were joined by those from the south and were taken west. Prior to the Trail, there was a large population of Native Americans living in this area, demonstrated by the artifacts and mounds.Florence is the economic center for a group of small cities, which are collectively called "the Shoals." Comprised of Lauderdale and Colbert counties, the Shoals consists of Florence, She...Read More

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

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Attraction

Alabama Music Hall of Fame Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
I am  really not a huge music fan. I listen while in my car and seldom around the house. Having said that I almost skipped the Alabama Music Hall of Fame while visiting this area. I'm really glad that I didn't.The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is the first hall of fame that I've visited. As such, it has set the bar pretty high as to what I would expect in similar museums.The first exhibit is a tribute to Sun Records, the label behind Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash; while the artists themselves where not from Alabama, the two men that founded the record label were therefore Alabama's impact on the music industry is much wider then just the singers. A recreation of the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Alabama Music Hall of Fame
US Highway 72 West
Florence, Alabama 35674
(800) 239-2643

Coon Dog Cemetery

Attraction

Coon Dog Cemetery Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
This is a one of it's kind place to visit! There is no where else in the world that you will see a Coon Dog cemetery. Unlike other pet cemeteries, the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery is a burial ground for pure breed coon dogs only. Only pure breed coon dogs are allowed to be buried here.Almost 200 coon dogs are buried here. The oldest dates back to 1937. There is also a monument at the entrance to all coon dogs.The gravestones range from the wooden crosses made of tree branches, like those that you would expect a young boy to make for their dog after it dies, to sophisticated granite grave stones, similar to those on human grave sites. One man in Birmingham has buried four dogs here o...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Coon Dog Cemetery
Alabama Highway 247
Florence, Alabama
(256) 383-0783

Dismals Canyon

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Attraction

Dismals Canyon Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
About 25-miles south of Florence in Phil Campbell (that's a town not a person), you will find Dismals Canyon. This is a nature canyon which provides some of the most scenic areas that you will find.The first that you will see as you enter the canyon is Rainbow Falls, so called as you can see a rainbow in the mist that the falls create. The falls are only a little more then 50-feet tall, but it is beautiful to see with the landscaping of the canyon on all sides of it.Next, you will see the Pulpit Rock. These rocks are over 60-feet tall rock walls. These were created by an earthquake 10,000 years ago. From the top you can see a view of the entire canyon.Another interesting p...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Dismals Canyon
901 Highway 8
Florence, Alabama 35581
(205) 993-4559

Indian Mound and Museum Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
This is one of the domiciliary Indian mound in the Tennessee Valley area. It measures 43 feet high, with a summit that is almost 1500 feet². The mound was created by a pre-historic tribe of Indians before the Cherokees, Chickasaws and the Creek Indians came to Alabama.The great mound, called "Wawmanona" by the Indians, was the home to the local chief or spiritual man. It is believed that the Indian chief / wise man would have been the only one living on the mound with occasional visitors who were seeking his counsel. His children would have lived in a village below the mound, but only one without blood stained hands could eventually take his place. Anyone who fought in a war could not live on ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Indian Mound and Museum
1028 South Court Street
Florence, Alabama 35630
(256) 760-6427

Ivy Green: Birthplace of Helen Keller Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
There are few stories that can inspire as much as that of Helen Keller. Helen Keller was born a healthy child in 1880. Before she turned 2-years-old she was hit with an illness that left her blind and deaf. Being both blind and deaf, the young Keller struggled for her first years until Anne Sullivan came to be her teacher.It was at this home in Tuscumbia, that Keller's story first spiked as she learned to communicate. With Anne Sullivan pumping the well and tapping the letters W-A-T-E-R into her side, something clicked in Helen's 7-year-old mind and she began to understand language. Before that day ended she knew 30 words.By the age of 10, she could read the "finger-tip language" and c...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Ivy Green: Birthplace of Helen Keller
300 North Commons Street West
Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674
(256) 383-4066

Kennedy Douglas Center for the Arts Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
Seeing an art museum in a small town just doesn't compare to the larger counterparts. An art in museum in a small town compares to a museum in a large city the same way community theater compares to a Broadway production. It is pleasant in the same way that Little League is pleasant in baseball; nice to see but for the real thing I go to Yankee Stadium.Anyway, the Kennedy Douglas Center for the Arts is absolutely not an exception to that rule. Located just off the campus of the University of North Alabama. The Center for the Arts is comprised of two different buildings housing two different galleries.The first gallery was provided by a local artist from the southern part of Ten...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Kennedy Douglas Center for the Arts
217 East Tuscaloosa St.
Florence, Alabama 35630
(256) 760-6379

LaGrange College

Attraction

LaGrange College Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
Alabama's first chartered college, LaGrange College and Military Academy was established in 1830. Known as the West Point of the South, the college was left virtually deserted in 1862 as its students had enlisted to fight in the war. In April 1863, Colonel Florence Cornyn and his "Destroying Angels" swept through this area and left only rubble in their wake.

Today, the pre-Civil War Cemetery still remains. There is also replica buildings that show how buildings in the pre-Civil War era would have looked.

I recommend this site for anyone deeply interested in the Civil War.

Website: http://recall-lagrange.00me.com/

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

LaGrange College
1491 LaGrange College Road
Florence, Alabama 30240
(706) 880-8005

Pope's Tavern

Attraction | "Pope's Tavern Museum"

Pope's Tavern Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
Pope's Tavern is significant because it was once a stage coach stop, an inn, and a tavern. This is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. It was used as a hospital by both the Union and Confederate soldiers.Now, owned by the city of Florence, the tavern has been converted into a museum with artifacts from the pioneer days, to the Civil War, to the end of the 19th century. There is a lot of Civil War material here, as well as some antiques from the pioneer days. The museum is led by a guided tour, which is just barely better than a self guided tour, as the tour guide cannot really answer many questions.I recommend this site for anyone interested in history, especially Civil Wa...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Pope's Tavern
203 Hermitage Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630
(256) 760-6439

Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House

Attraction | "Rosenbaum House"

Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
I was skeptical of this attraction before I ever went to it. I looked at all the websites before I started my vacation and I thought that this one was obviously overrated. I think to myself that this is just a house, a middle class house. Sure, Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect, but honestly, it's just a house.Once I visited the site, I was impressed with the design. This is a very nicely designed and built middle-class home from 1939. The house is beautifully decorated; most of the furniture and decorations are a part of the design by Wright.Having said all that, it is still just a middle-class home built in 1939. If this same home was built next to mine in 2006, it would sell ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House
601 Riverview Drive
Florence, Alabama
(256) 740-8899

Spring Park

Attraction

Spring Park Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
This park is really the center of activity outside of Florence. I went twice on my tour here and the place was packed both times. It really feels like a nice place to just unwind for a couple of hours between attractions or at the end of the day.The first thing that you notice as you enter the park is Cold Water Falls. This is a man-made cascading water fall that stretches 80 feet wide and 45 feet tall. Beautifully landscaped, this is the focal point for the park.Next to the falls is Sacred Tears, a twelve foot tall Indian statue. This statue commemorates the American Indians who were relocated to the west following the following the passage of the Indian Removal Act that led to the Tr...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Spring Park
1 South Main Street
Florence, Alabama

W.C Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library

Attraction | "W.C Handy Birthplace and Museum"

W.C Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
William Christopher Handy was born in this log cabin, not too far from its current location, on November 16, 1873. Now known as the "Father of the Blues," Handy, born in poverty, went on to be a big band leader and wrote some of the first examples of the blues with "Memphis Blues" and "St. Louis Blues." Handy died at the age of 84 in New York City. "If my serenade of song and story should serve as a pillow for some composer's head, as yet perhaps unborn, to dream and build on our folk melodies in his tomorrow, I have not labored in vain."Prior to this trip, I had never heard of W. C. Handy. I am limited on my musical knowledge and have never followed the Blues. As such, I went to this att...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

W.C Handy Birthplace, Museum & Library
620 West College Street
Florence, Alabama 35630
(256) 760-6434

Wilson Lock and Dam

Attraction

Wilson Lock and Dam Photo, Florence, Alabama
Quote:
Created by the Tennessee Valley Authority during the post-World War II reconstruction era, the Wilson dam is one of five on the Tennessee River within this area.

Here you will find a large day use facility that overlooks the dam and the river. There are also some nature trails here, but they are close to roads and not far enough to the interior to feel like real nature trails. From the overlook above the dam, you can watch ships passing through the locks. Due to 9/11 security risks, the visitors center and tours of the dam are temporarily closed.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Wilson Lock and Dam
Alabama Highway 133
Florence, Alabama
(256) 764-5226

Quote:
I like to visit art museums; I generally see a couple of museums on every vacation that I take. Overall, I am critical of smaller cities' art museum as they are unorganized and typically feature either local artists or school kids competitions; see my review of the Kennedy Douglas Center for the Arts in this same journal.Anyway, when I visited the Tennessee Valley Art Center, I found it to be much better then the average small town art center.First off, the presentation that they were featuring when I arrived was Japanese block printing. This didn't impress me as I've seen it plenty of times before. However, in the presentation room, they had a complete set of blocks with carvings on b...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 29, 2006

Tennessee Valley Art Center
511 North Water Street
Florence, Alabama 35674
(256) 383-0533

Two Days in Florence

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Two days will give you plenty of time to see all of the Shoals attractions, as well as a little spare time to relax or shop. The best days to visit are Thursday and Friday; as the Indian Mound and Museum, Pope's Tavern, W.C.Handy Birthplace and Museum, and the Rosenbaum Home are all closed on Sunday and Monday. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is closed on Sunday. Dismals Canyon is open year round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and seasonally for 7 days a week; the water show at Spring Park is also Friday through Sunday. The Kennedy Douglass Center for the Arts is open Monday through Friday. The Tennessee Valley Art Center is closed on Saturday.Given the various openings and closings of the att...Read More

About the Writer

NiteOwlTX

NiteOwlTX
LaPlace, Louisiana

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