Hartselle, Alabama

Day 1757

     “Hartselle, Alabama, was founded in 1870 with the arrival of the South and North Alabama Railroad. It takes its name from George Hartsell, one of the railroad’s owners. The post office opened in 1873. It was formally incorporated on March 1, 1875. Most of the oldest buildings were destroyed by fire in 1916.”

     Since we are camping in Hartselle only tonight, and not unhooking the truck from the Sphinx, I am not able to walk the town and talk to the townspeople about their history. I am therefore relying on the above quote from Wikipedia.

     It has been my experience that the information on Wikipedia differs from what the locals tell me, which is why I do not rely on it much.

     Okay, Okay, I couldn’t resist. How many noticed that the city name has an extra “e” at the end? My curiosity got the best of me, so I did some research (It’s amazing what you can do with some time and a computer). The answer was in an obscure booklet by David Burleson, Hartsell before the ‘E“,  who wrote that George Hartsell was born May 7, 1802 in North Carolina and married Delany Morgan in 1822. They moved here in 1834 and were the first real settlers of the property that wound up being incorporated in the city of Hartselle. After starting with 40 acres, they eventually owned as much as 800 acres. 

     George Hartsell’s property became one of the places in the county “where people came together,” Burleson writes, and by 1853 George Hartsell’s home was used as a gathering and voting place. The general area eventually was referred to as Hartsell’s — even though Scott L. Rountree and John Brown Stuart had more to do with developing what became the downtown business center of the future Hartselle. “George didn’t really found the town; he was just the namesake.” The city was founded in 1870 and was officially incorporated by the state as Hartsell’s in 1875. Around 1891 the federal government dropped the use of apostrophes in place names, and that made the name “Hartsells” show up on official documents, even though residents had started replacing the s on the end with an e. By 1920, the spelling Hartselle had become accepted for the city. So, a bureaucrat in the federal government decided to not use apostrophes, and that changed a city’s name. 

     TIDBIT OF INFORMATION:  President Benjamin Harrison signed executive order 28 on September 4, 1890, establishing the Board on Geographical Names“To this Board shall be referred all unsettled questions concerning geographic names. The decisions of the Board are to be accepted by federal departments as the standard authority for such matters.” Decisions of the board were accepted as binding by all departments and agencies of the federal government.

     An interesting note: Burleson’s booklet indicates Hartsell was a merchant and businessman, with no mention of him as an owner of the South and North Alabama Railroad. A search of the railroad does not list Hartsell as an investor. I think Wikipedia is wrong again. 

     Sorry, no pictures, unless you want to see the view outside my window of another RV.

Technical Stuff:

Montgomery, Alabama to Hartselle, Alabama: 158.9 miles

3 hours 14 minutes

10.8 MPG

Diesel: $3.06

Montgomery, Alabama, Again

Day 1756

     We have now been traveling around the Country for 4.8109589 years. Since we are traveling back home for our granddaughter’s wedding (another good man bites the dust) we are bound to repeat states we have already been (see Day 535).

     We are only spending one night in Montgomery, Alabama, as well as our next stop, Hartselle, Alabama, and therefore we will not unhook the truck from the Sphinx, and obviously not go sightseeing. 

Technical Stuff:

Pensacola, Florida to Montgomery, Alabama: 170.5 miles

3 hours 34 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $3.06

Athens, Alabama

Day 1314

     Athens, Alabama, named after the city in Greece, was incorporated in 1818, one year before the State was admitted to the Union. 

     We went to Athens, but it was closed. Even the Church was refusing sanctuary.

     We hiked along Swan Creek, a Tributary of the Tennessee River.

     This is the first time in months we have been able to hike. It was a beautiful pleasant day. 

Technical Stuff:

Meridian, Mississippi to Athens, Alabama: 236.6 miles

4 hours 20 minutes

11.1 MPG

Diesel: $1.55

Calera, Alabama

Day 988

     The city of Calera, Alabama, was incorporated in 1887, and named after the Spanish word for “quarry” for all of the limestone deposits located in the area.

     We are here because it is halfway between Pensacola, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee, our next destination. We are staying at the City’s campground, which is on a small lake. 

Technical Stuff: Pensacola, Florida to Calera, Alabama: 233.0 miles

5 hours 3 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.60

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Day 974

     We drove to the barrier island off the coast of Alabama. The south side of the island faces the Gulf of Mexico, and the north side, Mobile Bay.

     Madoc Gwynedd, born 1150 in Dolwyddelan Castle, Conwy County Borough in North Wales, was a Welsh navigator who came to this Island in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus’s voyage in 1492. He was a Welsh prince escaping the conflicts in his home country. (This obviously debunks the theory that people thought the world was flat.)

     In 1519, the explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, born 1494 in Spain, was the first documented European to visit, staying only long enough to map the island.

     The French arrived on January 31, 1699, when the explorer Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d’Iberville, one of the founders of French Louisiana, arrived at Mobile Bay and anchored here on his way to explore the mouth of the Mississippi River. D’Iberville named the island “Massacre Island” because of a large pile of human skeletons he discovered here. The gruesome site turned out to be a simple indian burial mound which had been broken open by a hurricane, not a massacre site. 

     The island’s name was changed in 1712 (probably because it dampened tourism) to Dauphin, in honor of the eldest son of the King of France, who was the Dauphin of France (dauphin was the title given to the heir apparent to the throne of France). The city was incorporated in 1988.

      The island is a thin strip of land, 17 miles long, by a few feet to a mile and a half wide, which explains their thin houses.

     The main attraction of the island is Fort Gaines. I wanted to visit the fort as it is across the bay from Fort Monroe, which I blogged about on Day 322.

     Construction of Fort Gaines was begun in 1853. Congress named the fortification for General Edmund Pendleton Gaines who had died in 1849. While still a young officer, Gaines received national recognition when he led the detachment which captured former Vice-President Aaron Burr, who had been accused of participating in a conspiracy to commit treason. Burr was found not guilty. (So, how many of you were thinking Benedict Arnold, when I am saying Aaron Burr?) Burr shot his political rival, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel on July 12, 1804, ending his political career, not to mention Hamilton’s.

     During the Civil War, Mobile Bay was a strategic location because it controlled the junction of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

     The primary contribution of the Confederate Army to the defense of Mobile Bay were three forts. Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines at the entrance to the bay. In addition, they set up Fort Powell, which no longer is in existence. 

     The Battle of Mobile Bay took place on August 5, 1864. The Union fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, attacked the Confederate fleet and the three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay, which had been heavily mined by the Confederates (mines at that time were known as torpedoes). Rear Farragut is noted for his exclamation: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

     If you have been following my Civil War Battles on these posts, then you know the Civil War actually ended in Alabama (and for those not following, you probably thought it ended in Virginia). See Day 324.

Technical Stuff: Convent, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama: 207.7 miles

4 hours 55 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.80

Theodore, Alabama

Day 805

     Theodore, Alabama, is named for William Theodore Hieronymous, born December 11, 1889 in Mobile, Alabama. I guess they did not want to name a village Hieronymous. This is a suburb of Mobile. We also stayed here on Day 529.

     We strolled through Mobile, Alabama, stopping at the Mardi Gras Museum.

     Mardi Gras is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States. Started by Frenchman Nicholas Langlois in 1703, when Mobile was the capital of Louisiana (see Day 281). This was fifteen years before New Orleans was founded.

     The Mobile, Alabama, Carnival Museum possess a wealth of dazzling attire worn by Mardi Gras kings and queens. The museum is housed in the Bernstein-Bush Manson, built in 1872 for Henry Bernstein, a boot and shoe dealer. The house was once owned by John Bush, who served as mayor of Mobile from 1897-1900, hence the name.

     The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was erected in 1839.

     It houses the oldest religious community in the State of Alabama, with it’s parish established in 1703 by John-Baptiste de la Croix, Bishop of Québec. 

     For 33 years, beginning in 1780, Mobile was governed by Spain. To honor this, this fountain and plaza was erected.

     I have no idea what this is. It was in front of an unidentified building, but it looks cool. 

     Continuing our stroll through Mobile, we come to The Mobile Mardi Gras Park. Dedicated to, guess what?

     Across the street was the Southern Market and Old City Hall, which now houses the Museum of Mobile.

     Completed in 1856, the building was used as a city hall and public market, a combination popular in Europe at the time. The government was run from the upstairs offices of the building, while the ground floor housed a fish market (we are right on Mobile Bay), grocery store, fruit stands, meat stalls, and two saloons. Horse drawn carriages could access the market along driveways that ran through the building. On September 12, 1979 the building became uninhabitable when Hurricane Frederic devastated Mobile. It took three and a half years to restore the building. In 2001 the building became the home of the Museum of Mobile, but the City Council still meets here once a year to maintain the unique status as the oldest continually used city hall in the United States.

     Inside the foyer was “Marianne” or The Goddess of Liberty, which use to stand on top of the 1889 Mobile County Courthouse. Damaged in the hurricane of 1916, she was disassembled and placed in storage until rescued by the Museum in 1970. She stands 18.5 feet tall on a 5 ft. pedestal.

     At this intersection, which separates Mardi Gras Park and the Southern Market and Old City Hall, the Order of Myths held Mobile’s first Mardi Gras parade on Shrove Tuesday, February 25, 1868.

     Continuing our stroll down the street to Mobile Bay, we come to the site of various forts by the Spanish, French, and Americans over the 160 year span from 1703 to 1865. The replica of the French Fort Condē, which stood here from 1724-1735, was a disappointment.

     They did preserve a vestige of Fort Condē, the only architectural remains of Colonial Mobile. 

     Well, I guess that is enough for one day. Tomorrow, if the weather is nice, we will go to Dauphin Island, which sits in the middle of Mobile Bay. The following day we leave for New Orleans to spend Thanksgiving with Barbara’s brother and family. 

Technical Stuff:

Auburn, Alabama to Theodore, Alabama: 237.0 miles

4 hours 54 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.81


Horseshoe Bend, Alabama

Day 802

     Barbara wanted to hike the battlefield of Horseshoe Bend.

     She took along her mule.

     At the beginning of the War of 1812, the Indians who inhabited the area of what is now Alabama, were fed up with the Americans. Numerous treaties had been made and broken by the white man with forked tongue. Although treaties had given the Creek Indians the land where I am now standing, settlers were pouring in and settling on this land. The Creeks weren’t going to take it anymore and began attacking and killing the trespassers.

     Congress sent Colonel Andrew Jackson to command the local militia and Creek Indians loyal to the U.S. His assignment: to remove these troublesome Indians, referred to as ” Red Sticks”, because they painted their war clubs red to distinguish themselves from the creeks who did not want war with the U.S., and make the land safe for settlers. 

     The Red Sticks had their major village, named Tehopekaon the Tallapoosa River. It was built on the land where the bend of the river resembled the shoe of a horse. 

     On March 27, 1814, Colonel Andrew Jackson led troops consisting of American soldiers, Cherokee, and Creek Indian allies, up a steep hill near Tehopeka.

     From this vantage point, Old Hickory, would begin his attack on the Red Stick 400-yard-long, log-and-dirt fortification (where the white markers are now located).

     Jackson ordered the attack. Major Lemuel P. Montgomery charged the breastworks and engaged the Red Sticks in hand-to-hand combat. He was one of the first to storm the Indian barricade, and one of the first to die. This was the first battle (and the last) of the 28 year old Tennessean. A commemorative marker was placed on this battlefield, and Montgomery, Alabama is named for him.   

     Jackson’s 3,000 man army defeated the 1,000 Creek Indians, ending the 2 year war.

      On August 9, 1814, Andrew Jackson required the Creeks sign a harsh Treaty in which the Creek Nation was forced to cede their land, 23 million acres, to the United States government, and leave the area to Oklahoma. Ironically, this applied to the Creek Indians who were loyal to the U.S. as well.

     Jackson was promoted to Major General and sent to New Orleans to face the invading British.

Auburn, Alabama

Day 801

     Auburn, Alabama, was opened to settlement on March 24, 1832 on land taken from the Creek Indians. The first settlers arrived in the winter of 1836. These settlers, led by Judge John J. Harper, born December 13, 1789, in Wilkes County, Georgia, intended to build a town that would be the religious and educational center for the area.

     According to local lore, a young woman chose the name for the town from the first line in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” published in 1770, which reads “Sweet Auburn, the loveliest village of the plain.” Auburn was incorporated on February 2, 1839. On February 1, 1856, the state legislature chartered a Methodist college, the East Alabama Male College in Auburn. This college, now Auburn University, opened its doors in 1859.

     Not far from here is Moton Airfield: 

      Those who remember from high school the Red Tail Fighters of WWII know where I am. 

     Robert Russa Moton was born August 26, 1867, just west of Richmond, Virginia. He was the second president of Tuskegee Institute, succeeding it’s founder, Booker T. Washington, in 1915, a position he held for 20 years until retirement in 1935. Tuskegee Institute’s primary flight training field was dedicated in April 1943 in memory of Dr. Moton.

     In late 1939, after World War II had begun in Europe, Tuskegee Institute inaugurated a civilian flight-training program that provided the foundation for the subsequent military aviation training of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first negro pilots in U.S. military service, and the only ones in World War II. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen because all of them received their primary, basic, and advanced pilot training here at Tuskegee Institute. The term has come to be applied not only to the almost 1,000 pilots, but also to approximately 13,600 other personnel who supported them as maintenance and supply personnel.

Technical Stuff: Guntersville, Alabama to Auburn, Alabama: 215.6 miles

4 hours 47 minutes

9.6 MPG

Diesel: $3.10

Guntersville, Alabama

Day 796

     The first white man to settle in this area of Alabama was John Gunter, born in 1765, a Scotsman who migrated from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War.

     Gunter came to the great bend of the Tennessee River around 1785, where he was fortunate to find a salt deposit. He decided to settle near the river. The town that emerged around his land, originally called Gunter’s Ferry, and then Gunter’s Landing, because his son, Edward, operated a ferry here, is present day Guntersville. He traded his salt with the Indians, the majority of whom were Cherokees.

     A Cherokee by the name of Chief Bushyhead, head of the Paint Clan, brought his beautiful 15 year old daughter, Ghe-go-he-li, to exchange for Gunter’s salt. (That is good use of a daughter.) Gunter accepted the bargain and changed his bride’s name to Katherine. Chief Bushyhead and Gunter signed a treaty stating “as long as the grass grows and the waters flow, the Indians can have salt.”

     On January 15, 1865, Federal Troops burned the town of Guntersville. One of the few buildings that survived was that of Montgomery Gilbreath, a Colonel in the confederate army, who fought at Shiloh. The board-and-batten house was built about 1858, and still stands today.

     As you can tell from reading my blog, I am interested in the town where we actually set up our camp. These towns, like Guntersville, are small and usually not familiar to everyone, like the big name cities, or well known historical places. To get the history of these towns, I go to the local historical society, chamber of commerce, or local museum. Guntersville’s Museum is located in their old National Guard Armory. Made of local rough limestone in the castellated style, this historic rock armory was built in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The armory was to provide storage and drill space for the local National Guard, Company E of the 167th Infantry, Second Battalion. They are famous for being part of the Rainbow Division of WWII. (Douglas MacArthur, a major then, cherry-picked the best national guard units from coast to coast and put four regiments together from 26 states like a rainbow. Alabama was selected.)

     We walked along the Tennessee River.

     And then Lake Guntersville. The lake was created when the Tennessee Valley Authority damed the Tennessee river.

     Why are we staying in this remote place? FREE CAMPING. When we bought the RV, they gave us a voucher for free camping at one of the properties of Ocean Canyon Properties, a membership only community. The only requirement was we had to listen to their spiel. In addition to 5 nights camping on Guntersville Lake, they gave us $100.00 cash. 

     We drove around the lake, and had dinner on the mountaintop which had a spectacular view of the lake. 

     Look for us down the road:

Technical Stuff:

Bowling Green, Kentucky to Guntersville, Alabama: 221.5 miles.

4 hours 52 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.95

Pelham, Alabama

Day 597

     Pelham, Alabama was named for Confederate American Civil War officer John Pelham. The city was incorporated in 1964. We did not do any exploring as we are here just for the night. This is a stop over on our way to Tennessee to a repair facility for the damage done by the gate closure. 

Walton, Florida to Pelham, Alabama: 244.6 miles

4 hours 58 minutes

10.1 MPG

Diesel: $2.70

Montgomery, Alabama

Day 535

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8238_Fotor

     At the conclusion of the Creek War of 1814, much of the land that would become Alabama came under American control, 21 million acres. In 1817, Congress established the Alabama Territory and designated the town of St. Stephens as the capital. 

     The Towns of New Philadelphia and East Alabama Town merged on December 3, 1819, and were incorporated as the town of Montgomery. Montgomery, Alabama was named for Richard Montgomery, born December 2, 1738, a brigadier general in the Continental Army.

     Alabama was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819, and Montgomery became the State Capital on January 28, 1846

     Beginning February 4, 1861, representatives from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina met in Montgomery to host the Southern Convention, which ultimately formed the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was named the first capital of the nation, and Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President on the steps of the State Capitol building on February 18, 1861.

     We were given a private tour of the Capital Building, in which we saw the Senate Chamber, were the Confederate States of America was born

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8211_Fotorand the house chamber, where President Davis met with his cabinet.  Day 535 Montgomery AL 8225_Fotor

     I think that was his spittoon. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8204_Fotor

     When you feel inside, there’s still some spit in there. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8210_Fotor

     The walls and ceilings inside the Capital Building are completely flat, but painted to look 3D. My wife says it is called “Trompe-l’œil”. Day 535 Montgomery AL 8231_Fotor

     And they have a very neat spiral staircase that goes up 3 stories. 

     Jefferson Davis and his family resided here 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8172_Fotorin what is now called the First White House of the Confederacy. Actually, when he was living there it was not called that. In fact, the White House in Washington wasn’t named that until President Theodore Roosevelt established the formal name in 1901, well after the Civil War. 

     Davis lived here for a short time, as the Capital of the Confederacy was moved to Richmond Virginia on May 8, 1861. The house was built in 1835 by William Sayre, and at the time of the War of Northern Aggression was owned by Col. Edmond Harrison, a cotton planter. He leased the house to the Confederacy for use as a residence of the Davis family. 

Day 535 Montgomery AL 8190_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Mobile, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama: 181.7 miles

3 hours 33 minutes

10.7 MPG

Diesel: $2.50

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

Day 534

     Although Bellingrath Gardens, in Theodore, Alabama, is best known for it’s lush gardens, we went there in the evening to view it’s Christmas display which feature over 3 million lights with 1,000 set pieces in 13 themed scenes spaced around the estate.

     Originally this was the home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. Walter Bellingrath was one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast, and with his wealth built the estate garden and home.

     Tidbit of Information: The garden pathways are composed of flagstone that had been obtained from the old city sidewalks in Mobile, where they had been in place since arriving as ballast in sailing vessels. 

     We arrived just before sunset so that we could see some of the flowers. 

     As the sun set, the lights began to shine.

     They had some unique displays

     Ok, is the moon waning or waxing?

Battle Ship Park, Mobile, Alabama

Day 533

     Battle Ship Park is located on Mobile Bay in Mobile, Alabama, and hosts a tribute to those who served in WWII. It houses an aircraft museum, the Battleship USS Alabama, and the submarine USS Drum. We toured all.

     The USS battleship Alabama was launched February 16, 1942, therefore it was not at Pearl Harbor. The battleship was in 9 battles, 6 bombardments, and shot down 22 enemy airplanes. This was the sixth navy ship named for the State. 

     In all those encounters, it was never damaged from the enemy. However on February 21, 1944, during the Asiatic-Pacific Raids, one 5-inch gun mount accidentally fired into another mount killing 6 and wounding 11 men. 

     Some short people probably could not serve on this ship, as they couldn’t see over the deck. 

     Barbara thought she could have been a gunner.

     The Alabama carried a detachment of 75 marines. They were responsible for shipboard security, and manned the anti-aircraft guns. 

     Tidbit of Information: The marines wore a leather collar to guard against neck cuts, and hence the name “Leathernecks”.

     Like most submarines, the USS Drum was named after a fish. Drum is a large sea bass found off the North Atlantic coast.

     The USS Drum was built at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, launched on May 12 , 1941 and commissioned on November 1, 1941. She did not arrive at Pearl Harbor from the East Coast until April 1, 1942. 

     The Drum had 10 Torpedo Tubes, 6 forward and 4 aft. When leaving port all 10 tubes were loaded and they carried 14 reloads for a total of 24 torpedoes. 

      The Drum was in 12 battles and sunk 15 Japanese ships. It is interesting to note that the crew claimed they sunk 27 ships. 

     Tidbit of Information: The United States had 254 submarines in WWII. 52 were lost during the war, with 3 by friendly fire and 2 by their own torpedoes. 

Mobile, Alabama

Day 529

     The city of Mobile, Alabama, gained its name from the Mobile tribe that the French colonists encountered living in the area. Spanish explorers were sailing into the area of Mobile Bay as early as 1500, with the bay being marked on early maps as the Bahía del Espíritu Santo (Bay of the Holy Spirit). Hernando de Soto explored the area of Mobile Bay and beyond in 1540, finding the area inhabited by indigenous Muscogee people. During this expedition his forces destroyed the fortified town of Mauvila, from which the name Mobile was later derived.

     The European settlement of Mobile began with French colonists, who in 1702 constructed a fort. It was founded by French Canadian brothers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, to establish control over France’s Louisiana claims. These brothers founded many cities in this area (see day 316).

     In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Seven Years’ War, which Britain won, defeating France. By this treaty, France ceded its territories east of the Mississippi River to Britain.  During the American Revolutionary War, West Florida and Mobile became a refuge for loyalists fleeing the other colonies. While the British were dealing with their rebellious colonists along the Atlantic coast, the Spanish entered the war in 1779 as an ally of France. They took the opportunity to order Bernardo de Galvez, Governor of Louisiana, on an expedition east to retake West Florida. He captured Mobile during the Battle of Fort Charlotte in 1780, as part of this campaign. The Spanish held Mobile as a part of Spanish West Florida until 1813, when it was seized by United States General James Wilkinson during the War of 1812.

     Went to the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. The interesting thing about this museum is that it is built to resemble a container ship, with each exhibit in a separate container.

     Unfortunately, Christmas is coming, and we must head home. We see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Technical Information:

Ponchatoula, Louisiana to Mobile Alabama: 139.1 miles

2 hours 59 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.44

The Last Battle of the Civil War

Day 324

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1607_Fotor

     Some people believe that the last major battle of the Civil War took place here, at Fort Blakeley, Alabama, beginning exactly 152 years ago today, on April 1, 1865, and ending April 9th.

     Being the anniversary, we attended a re-enactment of that last battle at redoubt #4, the heaviest fortified position. 

     The Union army awaits the signal for the final assault on Fort Blakeley, the last Confederate fortification guarding the eastern side of Mobile Bay.  It has been under siege and bombarded for days. When that signal comes, 16,000 Union troops will emerge from siege trenches and rifle pits to attack along a three mile front against a semi-circular perimeter defended by 4,000 Confederates.  With Blakeley gone, there’s nothing to stop the Union army from invading the last prize of the Confederacy – Mobile.

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1623_Fotor

     The outcome of the battle is not in doubt. By this point in the war, the Union army is a battle-hardened war machine – competently led and with seemingly endless amounts of arms, ammunition and men. 

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1632_Fotor

     The next day, April 10, 1865, Mobile surrendered without a fight. 

Day 324 Ft Blakeley, AL1663_Fotor

Gulf Shore, Alabama

Day 322

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1475_Fotor

     Of the numerous forts, battlefields and museum that we have visited, Fort Morgan in Alabama is the worst. The fort was used during the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI and WWII. The museum was unorganized, with the different war information intermingled with each other.

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1443_Fotor

     The fort itself was not kept up, with sparse markings. For example, this piece

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1469_Fotor

located in the center and in a prominent position in the fort was unidentified. Nevertheless, here is what I was able to piece together about the fort:

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1435_Fotor

     Fort Morgan is a historic masonry star fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay. (You know what a star fort is, Fort McHenry). Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. The post was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Daniel Morgan, born July 6, 1736.  He was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia and one of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War.

     There has been some sort of fortification on this site since March, 1780 when the Spanish occupied this area. During the War of 1812, the fort was occupied by US forces, and called Fort Bowyer. In February, 1815, the British Royal Navy overran the Fort (I wonder if they exclaimed “Remember New Orleans!”?). They returned the fort to the United States the next month when they learned the Treaty of Ghent had been signed.

     The fort was refortified in 1833 and renamed Fort Morgan. In 1861 the confederate Alabama State Militia seized Fort Morgan from the U.S. Government. The fort remained in Southern hands until August 23, 1864 when the Union forces threw the Confederates out in the only battle that took place here.

     Over the ensuing years the fort was used off and on until 1947 when the US Government deeded the fort to the State of Alabama for use as a historical park. During the last 70 years they have done a poor job.

     The fort is actually crumbling:

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1451_Fotor

    Barbara re-inacts being a lookout at the fort.

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1468_Fotor

     We took a short trip to Perdido Key, Florida, so Barbara could dip her piggies in the Gulf of Mexico.

Day 322 Gulf Shore, AL1492_Fotor 

Technical Stuff:

Biloxi, Mississippi to Gulf Shore, Alabama 110.3 miles

2 hours 42 minutes

11.6 MPG

Diesel $2.20

Ditto’s Landing, Alabama

Day 266

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     We are staying at the campground located at Ditto’s Landing, on the Tennessee River, about 12 miles from Redstone Arsenal. In 1807 Pioneer James Ditto began operating a ferry service from here across the Tennessee River. This landing became a major crossing to Madison County, Alabama, and became a thriving port, with the town of Whitesburg being incorporated here on December 23, 1824. Throughout the 19th century this port was a major cotton shipping center. However, with the advent of railroads, water transportation declined and the town disappeared. The Post Office closed in 1905.


Burritt Mansion, Huntsville, Alabama

Day 267


     William Henry Burritt, was born February 17, 1869, Madison County, AL, in what is now Huntsville, AL. We visited Burritt Mansion built in 1938, after his first house burned down the day he moved in, June 6, 1936. Dr. Burritt was a medical doctor but in 1903 shifted his attention from medicine to the manufacture of rubber products. He developed and had a patent on a wheel and pneumatic tire system.

     The mansion was built in the shape of a maltase cross, and  located on 167 acres on Round Top Mountain. He was attracted to the healthful spring waters and mountain air that had won the neighboring mountain the name “Monte Sano,” or Mountain of Health.



      He had neat fireplaces. 


    The mansion contained an exhibit of the Life and Works of Maria Howard Weeden. Born July 7, 1846, she became famous for her drawings and literary works on the freed slaves following the Civil War.

     We visited neighboring Monte Sano. I feel much healthier.


Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

Day 265

     The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is located at Redstone Arsenal, an active military base. It was here that von Braun and his team developed and tested the rockets that led up to the Saturn V that took Apollo 11 to the moon.

     For the last 17 years, the Flight Center is the Payload Operation Center for the International Space Station. While the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas control the operation of the Space Station, The Marshal Center controls all the experiments that are done by the US on the Station. There are 6 people on the space station. 3 Russians and 3 Americans. Sometimes the Americans give up one of their spots to a member of one of the other countries that have contributed to the Space Station.

     The number of people on the Station is limited to 6 people, as the only way to get to the Station from Earth is through the Russian Soyuz vehicles, which hold only 3 people. The average stay is 6 months, with 3 people leaving and being replaced every 3 months. 

     We were able to view the Operation Center.


     There were live feeds from the Space Station. Here you can see the Russian ships at their dock. 


     In case of emergency the astronauts can leave the station on these two vehicles. 

     Here is a live view of the Earth from the Station.


     The Marshall Space Flight Center is also developing the next rockets


     As well as the vehicle and propulsion system that will take man to Mars in 2030. 


Huntsville, Alabama

Day 264


     The Deep South doesn’t get any deeper than Alabama. This is where cotton was king, where the Confederacy was born, and where Jefferson Davis’ birthday is still a holiday. We came here to get warm, but the temperature is still only in the 50’s.

     Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819.  

     Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz, Germany March 23, 1912. He received a doctorate degree in physics from the University of Berlin in 1934. He was interested in rocketry and his work became widely known, which led to the establishment of the Rocket Center at Peenemuende, Germany in 1937. During WW2 he led the team that developed the V-2 liquid fueled rocket used in the bombing of England. 

     When the Allied forces advanced into Germany, von Braun and some of his colleagues surrendered to the U.S. Army. The German rocketeers began working with the Army to enhance the V-2 and develop other rockets. 

     In 1941 the Army chose Huntsville, Alabama as the location of a wartime chemical munitions plant and arsenal, now called Redstone Arsenal. It was here that von Braun was eventually brought. In 1950, von Braun became the technical director of rocket development. On April 14, 1955 he became a United States Citizen. 

     On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration day-264-huntsville-al-9579_fotor

      Responding to President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon, he led the team that developed the Saturn Rocket that took Apollo 11 to the moon and back. This site became the Marshall Space Flight Center.

    Today we toured the museum, tomorrow we will go to the Marshall Space Flight Center.      


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They had a live feed from the International Space Station.

Barbara walks the Arm for her space walk.




On display was one of the moon rocks brought back by

Apollo 11. I wonder if my brother, Norman, worked on that rock?

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Technical Stuff:

Cumming, GA to Huntsville, AL 248.4 miles

5 hours 7 minutes

10.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.34