historic spots in Alabama by reading Alabama Bound
by Charlie Spence, Writer and WTA Member. It features a mini,
but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know
to plan your trip including getting there, objective information
on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the
article, we've provided a summary of the contact information for
your easy reference. Enjoy!
Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member
“Alabama Bound” had
been a traditional song in the South for years and in 1924 lyricist Bud
Green and composer Ray Henderson made the thought into “Alabamy Bound,”
a ragtime tune that became a standard in vaudeville and to this day
invites visitors to this hospitable state. And, one of the best places
to start your visit is Tuskegee, Montgomery, and the surrounding area
where you can step back into a hundred years of history and view the
links with the past, the core of the Civil Rights movement, and modern
The Tuskegee Airmen
trained at Moton Field where you will find exhibits, historic buildings,
audio-visual programs, and guided walks to let you step back in time to
this Tuskegee experience. In July 1941, a program began to train black
Americans as pilots in the army air corps. Tuskegee was the home of
Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University. The men received their
ground school training at the Institute’s Division of Aeronautics and
basic flight training at Moton Field, then moved on to nearby Tuskegee
Army Field. In all, 992 men graduated from training at Tuskegee, 450 of
whom went into combat. Approximately 150 lost their lives while training
or in combat.
fought a war on two fronts, one against the Nazis and one against
racism—distinguished themselves in combat. They flew more than 15,000
sorties, destroyed more than 1000 German aircraft, and earned 744 air
medals and more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Plan to spend
plenty of time at the Daniel “Chappie” James Aerospace Center to learn
much more about the legendary airmen.
You will find fascinating history at the
institute, which began as a normal school where Booker T. Washington
became the first principal. He later hired individuals like George W.
Carver to help develop the institute to its world-renowned status. You
will see the legacy of these men preserved in the historic campus
district where original buildings, built by the students and faculty,
still stand. Visit “The Oaks,” the home of Booker T. Washington. Check
out the amazing works of George W. Carver, the pioneering scientist at
the nearby George Carver Museum.
“The Oaks” Home of Booker T. Washington.
Photo courtesy of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel
A visit to the
Tuskegee area sets the stage for traveling back in history to experience
firsthand the life and landscape of an era when slavery was a part of
the fabric of American Life and a setting for achievements of
African-Americans in later years. Tuskegee was the home of Rosa Parks,
the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” before she moved to
Montgomery. Alice Coachman, the first black woman to win an Olympic gold
medal made her home in Tuskegee. She went on to win 34 national titles
in track and field.
This area of
“Alabamy” has much more than history. The Tuskegee National Forest
covers 11,054 acres giving nature lovers a variety of options. The
Bertram National Recreation Trail offers hiking through an 8.5-mile
trail of secluded woodland. You can enjoy 14 miles of horse trails.
Visit a replica of Booker T. Washington’s boyhood cabin.
Now drive over to
Montgomery, just a short distance west of Tuskegee. From Civil War to
Civil Rights, Montgomery has played important roles and today combines
the qualities of the Old South with the vibrancy of the twenty first
century. Montgomery has the only state capitol that is designated a
national historic landmark. It is the place where Jefferson Davis took
the oath of office as the president of the Confederate States of
In one day you can
cover a lot of the city and personally experience where many events that
you’ve read about actually occurred. Start the day at the Alabama
Department of Archives and History. At this free museum you will see
artifact collections documenting Alabama history from early Indians to
Civil Rights. You might be tempted to stay and enjoy the two hands-on
galleries—“Grandmas Attic” and “Discovery Boxes”—but much of the city
awaits your discovery.
Still in the Civil
War mode, take a tour of the first Confederate White House, the home of
Jefferson Davis. Open Monday through Friday, the admission is free and
you will see period furnishings and many of Davis’ personal belongings.
Walk in the
footsteps of achievement by African-Americans in this birthplace of the
Civil Rights movement. Visit the Dexter Avenue King Memorial, which was
the first pulpit of Martin Luther King, Jr. The church was the center of
the bus boycott. Here you will see a mural depicting King’s civil rights
crusade from Montgomery to Memphis.
Dexter Avenue King Memorial—the first pulpit of Dr. Martin Luther King
Photo courtesy of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel
Plan at least two
hours to enjoy Old Alabama Town. Stretching six blocks along the heart
of historic downtown Montgomery, you will see a collection of
authentically restored 19th and 20th century
structures. These structures reflect the lives of the people who settled
central Alabama. The Gallagher House was Old Town’s first restoration.
It stands on the original site of the original building and includes
kitchens and slave quarters. For contrast, go over to Lucas Tavern.
Originally located east of Montgomery, Lucas Tavern was a stage stop for
travelers. An admission is charged but senior and AAA discounts are
honored. Best way to get around the downtown area to the tour spots and
to avoid the parking hassle is on the unique trolley system. A $1.00
pass lets you use the system all day.
Now, let’s start
looking for some relaxation from our historic travels. A good segue is a
visit to the Hank Williams Museum on Commerce Street to see the singer’s
1952 Cadillac, saddle, guitars, records, and photos. For old time Rock ?n
Roll try Carrera’s where they have live bands every weekend, or drop in
at the Metro on Dexter Street. Metro is a mid-size night dance club with
a French theme. The Montgomery Brewing Company—The Brewpub to
locals—offers good food and features live entertainment Friday and
From history to
high times, from grits to gourmet, a visit here will reward you being
by scheduled airline, use Montgomery Airport, served by major carriers.
The usual rental car services are available. Tuskegee is about 50 miles
west of the airport. Take I-65 N to I-85 to exit 38.
Where to Stay
Accommodations are best found in Montgomery where you have a wide choice
and range of prices found in any metropolitan area. Several bed and
breakfast facilities are available. A few suggestions:
- Baymont Inn and Suites--$56 - $119
- Courtyard by Marriott--$69 - $117
- Diplomat Inn -- $34 - $42
- Residence Inn by Marriott--$75 - $145
- Colonel’s Rest B&B--$60 up
- Sweetnin’ House B&B--$95 - $105
WTA's Travel Booking Service that offers discounts at many hotel
properties, plus you can book rental cars and vacation rental
Notice: This information is current as of
February 2004. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or
visit the websites above to determine any changes to the information.