Marengo County High School, 1909

As some of you may have heard me remark, I have driven from Atlanta to Mobile so many times that I will go to great lengths to avoid the normal I-85/I-65 route and get some variety.

This time I went to Tuscaloosa on Friday, spent the night and Saturday morning there, and headed south in the afternoon.

Ignoring the route suggested by Google maps, I decided to follow the way that was burned into my memory from 20 years ago. The route that at that time most Mobile-area UA students followed:

AL 69 to Greensboro, then AL 25 down to AL 5, which very shortly leads to US 43, which takes you all the way to I-65 north of Mobile.

The 25 stretch is the most rural. It is almost nothing but farmland alternating with the manmade lakes where catfish are raised.

The towns along the way are tiny, one traffic light (if that) affairs. The kind of places that have feed and seed stores. The kind of places where the main road in the middle of town has a passive railroad crossing with no lights or swinging gate arms.

In Thomaston a sign proclaiming “Eat Pepper Jelly!” caught my eye. Smaller signs indicated the “Alabama Rural Heritage Center” was nearby.

I know now the center was closed (it’s Saturday hours are only 10-1), but it would not have mattered anyway because I was too clueless to realize which building it was in.

Instead I thought the signs were directing me to a large old building that once I got up to it, turned out to be an abandoned high school. The doors were padlocked, the window glass was broken, and the wooden wheelchair ramp was rotting. Clearly this place has been unused for some time, although the mere presence of such a ramp showed it had probably still been in use in the 1990s.

I was at this point still confused thinking this was the heritage center, which I imagined as some kind of museum. Signs had promised a gift shop at least, and pepper jelly. Yet here it was, abandoned and decaying.

The gym was in even worse shape than the main building. Trees were growing out of its roof.

The ground around these buildings was not overgrown, indicating it is still cared for. A flag was loudly flapping atop the school’s flagpole, which presumably someone had to raise and lower.

I decided to walk around between the school and its gym. Behind the gym the tattered tin roof of an old shed was groaning in the breeze, metal scraping against metal with each gust of wind.

The back door to the gym was off its hinges, so I went inside to take pictures. The main roof was gone except for its skeletal ribs, the sun shining in fueling plant growth in what had presumably once been the basketball court and the scene of many a prom and homecoming dance. Nice touch for Valentine’s Day.

The actual heritage center turned out to be in a renovated outbuilding on the side of the school opposite the gym, actually closer to the Pepper Jelly sign. But like I said it was closed. No pepper jelly today.

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Coming Soon: the most unique guided tours in Atlanta

I am about to start dabbling in the tour guide business. For a small fee (tbd), I will take a carload of site-seekers on a driving and walking tour of the greatest city of the modern south. Tours will be conducted only with pre-arrangement, and will need to fit around my work and life schedule.

Ads are going to be placed on Craiglist and other places. I don’t expect to make much money. I might get rolled. But it should be interesting.

The tours will cover overlapping areas. For example, more than one will include downtown, but each tour will have a unique emphasis.

Eastern Continental Divide Driving Tour

The ECD, little known and little remarked upon, is actually one of the important natural features of the area. This tour will follow the divide and include my ramblings about history and the areas through which it passes.

Railroad Tour

This tour emphasizes railroad history and trivia. Portions will take place on MARTA trains, for which the fare is not included in the tour price.

Gentrification Tour

Combined walking and driving tour, will visit many of the Intown neighborhoods that have bounced back from urban decay to affluence, or at least hipness.

Buford Highway

Driving tour with multiple stops at local businesses.

Brown’s Bridge

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Located on the border of Forsyth and Hall counties on state route 369, spanning Lake Lanier. There have been bridges at this spot over the Chattahoochee since before the lake was created. This current bridge was built in 1955.

There is a very similar bridge to the north on route 53. The part of Lake Lanier spanned by that bridge is actually the Chestatee River, above the confluence with the Hooch that is now submerged by the lake.

Both of these bridges are set for replacement. Two-lane through-truss bridges like this are an endangered species on our highways.

link to BridgeHunter page for Brown’s Bridge

Crazy Weekend Roadtrip Plans

Horseshoe Curve

altoona

Friday:

  1. Leave work in time to beat rush hour, drive up I-85 to Charlotte
  2. Turn north up I-77, to I-81
  3. Head up 81 until I get sleepy
  4. Flop somewhere for the night

Saturday:

  1. Drive to Horseshoe Curve near Altoona PA
  2. Watch trains for as long as I feel like
  3. Drive to Gettysburg
  4. Visit Civil War stuff
  5. Stay the night

Sunday:

  1. Get up early and drive all the way home, Googles say about 10 hours.

 


 

Folkston Funnel Florida Fun

folkston

No schedule for this one yet, but it involves:

  1. Watching trains in Folkston, GA
  2. Watching space launch at Cape Canaveral

 

 


Bourbon Country

This will probably require more than a weekend.

cincy