In a small, grassy meadow, deep in the rich, thick wilderness of Freedom Hills, Key Underwood sadly buried his faithful coondog, Troop. They had hunted together for more than 15 years. They had been close friends.
The burial spot was a popular hunting camp where coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coon hounds. Those comparisons usually began and ended with Troop…he was the best around.
Underwood knew there was no place in the world Troop loved more than that camp. It was only fitting, he decided, that Troop spend eternity there. On that dreary Labor Day of 1937, Underwood said good-bye to his legendary coonhound. He wrapped Troop in a cotton pick sack, buried him three feet down, and marked the grave with a rock from a nearby old chimney. On the rock, with a hammer and a screwdriver he had chiseled out Troop’s name and the date. A special marker was erected in his memory.
Architecture critic Peter Blake wrote in 1960 that “during the 1930s, Wright built four structures of a beauty unexcelled in America before or since.” Three of those are Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax Administrative Building, and Taliesin West. The fourth was the Rosenbaum House.
The Rosenbaum House is a single-family house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in Florence, Alabama. A noted example of his Usonian house concept, it is the only Wright building in Alabama, and is one of only 26 pre-World War II Usonian houses. Wright scholar John Sergeant called it “the purest example of the Usonian.”
For over 8,000 years, this timeworn path has felt the tread of travelers. Buffalo and other wildlife were first to wind their way through the wilderness. Later, American Indians, traders, trappers and missionaries joined their fellow creatures on the rough track. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, boatmen floated merchandise downriver to New Orleans where they sold their flatboats and their goods and returned home on foot or horseback, using the well-worn Natchez Trace. Back then the Trace went through rough territory dominated by many hazards, such as bandits, American Indians and wild animals. All these hazards earned the route the ominous nickname, “Devil’s Backbone.” Cautious travelers of the old Trace made sure to acquire safety in numbers by accompanying postal workers on their regular routes. Because of their influence on traveling the Trace, postal workers were later chosen as the official symbol of the Parkway.
Today’s visitors will not need this historic safety measure to enjoy the Trace’s rich wildlife and scenery. Crimson clover, butterweed, Japanese honeysuckle and ground ivy are just a few of about 100 species of wildflowers to be found along the Parkway at different times of the year. There are also numerous hiking trails, exhibits, picnic sites, campgrounds, and water recreation areas. On either side of the Parkway lie communities with wonderful places to stay, excellent places to dine and plenty to see and do.
Hiking on the Parkway presents both challenges and rewards. With over 60 miles of National Scenic Trail and 28 different hiking and self-guiding trails, there is something for every kind of traveler to experience. Be sure to bring your camera along; beautiful scenery will greet you no matter what time of the year you choose to visit!
Trapped in a dark, soundless world after a childhood illness left her blind and deaf, Helen Keller saw the potential in her own mind and went on to read French, German, Greek, and Latin in Braille. She entered Radcliffe College at 20, wrote 11 books, numerous articles, and lectured in 39 countries on five different continents. She also inspired two Oscar-winning movies and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American civilian can receive.
At her birthplace and childhood home known as “Ivy Green” in Tuscumbia, Alabama, visitors can see the Keller family’s original furnishings, hundreds of personal mementos, gifts, and books from a lifetime of travels. Thousands gather for the week-long Helen Keller Festival each June, and the epic drama “The Miracle Worker” is performed at the home each June and July.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30 AM-4 PM, Sunday 1-4 PM.
Address: 300 W. North Commons, Tuscumbia, AL 35674
Built in 1820 only one year after Alabama became the 22nd State of the Union, Ivy Green is a simple, white clapboard home design in typical Southern architecture. The main house is of Virginia cottage construction, with four large rooms on the first floor bisected by a wide hall. Each room boasts an individual fireplace. Upstairs are three rooms connected by a hall. Having survived untouched through the ravages of the Civil War, Ivy Green is maintained to the smallest detail in its original state.
Since 1954 Helen Keller’s birthplace has been a permanent shrine to the “miracle” that occurred in a blind and deaf seven-year old girl’s life. At that time Ivy Green was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.