Experiencing the deep south – Montgomery, AL

Alabama State Capitol

Alabama State Capitol

With our beach days over for now, we headed back to the hills and north to Montgomery, Alabama.  As any history buff can verify, Montgomery has had two pivotal moments in American history – the birth of the Confederacy and the Civil Rights Movement.  There is no better place for me as an immigrant to delve into it than in the city which was the center of it all.  The city has done a great job of preserving, restoring and marking historical areas that allow us visitors to walk and follow the Civil Heritage Trail.  I will share a few highlights of the many historic sites – hopefully you won’t fall asleep halfway through.

Montgomery is where a fascinating period in American history began, when in Feb 1861 six of the seven seceded states formed a new nation to be called the Confederate States of America.  This is where they established a provisional government, selecting Montgomery as the provisional capital and electing their first and only president, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

First White House of the Confederacy

First White House of the Confederacy

Because of its significance in American history, the state capitol is a designated National Landmark.  In Feb 1861, it served as the first capitol of the Confederacy with Jefferson Davis being sworn in on the front steps as its President. Much later, on March 25, 1965 this spot is where the Civil Rights March ended.  The march, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., demanded voting rights for African Americans.  President Johnson passed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 five months later.

Just around the corner from the capitol is the First White House of the Confederacy, where the President and his wife lived during the first months of the confederacy until the confederate capital moved to Richmond, VA in May 1861.

Montgomery Bus BoycottWe stood at the bus stop where, in 1955, Rosa Parks sparked the Bus Boycott – signaling the start of the Civil Rights Movement and making Montgomery the epicenter of a groundbreaking societal shift in this country.

An ornate  fountain built in 1885 on top of an existing artesian basin can be seen at the center of town.  It is named Court Square Fountain.
Court Square Fountain

On another day we drove about 20 miles from our campground to the Daniel Pratt Historic Disctrict in the city of Prattville.  We checked out Autauga Creek and the manufacturing complex around which this New Engand style village was developed by Daniel Pratt.  He chose this town to build his gin mill, saw mill and grist mill on the banks of Autauga Creek in the early 1830’s.

Autauga Creek

Autauga Creek and the Pratt manufacturing complex

Olympian Center, Jasmin Hills and Gardens

Olympian Center

Before the rain hit us again, I visited the Jasmine Hill Gardens, nicknamed “Alabama’s little corner of Greece”.  It is a 20-acre garden that features mythical gods and Olympian heroes.  The facade of the Olympian Center, which is the entrance to the garden, is an adaptation of the Temple of Hera the oldest sacred building in Olympia, Greece

The gardens feature reproductions of famous Greek works of art and Olympian heroes and inside was the world’s only full-size replica of the Temple of Hera ruins at Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games.

Temple of Hera Ruins

Replica of Temple of Hera Ruins

Jasmine Hill Gardens

The rain did come, and we had a leak leak similar to the one at Patagonia, AZ.  This time Steve figured out that the rain had created a pool of water on top of the slide cover and seeped through it.  So, we know the cause of the problem and that it only happens under certain conditions.  Now all we have to do is figure out what to do about it. wpid11985-2013-04-05-AL-1380012.jpg

We stayed at our first US Army Corp of Engineers (COE) campground, and it became one of our favorites.  We stayed on the Catoma Loop at Gunter Hill Campground, the newer of the the two loops.  The park is wooded and right on a lake.  Most of the sites are super long and there is generous space between sites.  The downside is that there are no hiking trails, but we made do by walking/biking to the other Antioch Loop, which is about 4 miles roundtrip.  I particularly liked it here, as our feathered friends were abundant in the area.  The park is about 20 miles south of Montgomery.  Click here for Steve’s review.

Steve loves to cook, and when the weather turned gorgeous he did his thing:

And with spring come the blooms!

Next up: LaGrange, GA and a visit to the Little White House.