Friday, February 3, 2023



Alabama Book trip #2 travels through the northwest corner of the state. It’s a Rock ‘n Romance tour of  Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Walker, Winston, Lawrence, and Limestone counties. There’s a book to read, something to see and a recommendation of a place to eat at each stop. The stops are numbered, but the trip is a loop, so you can begin at any number on the trail. 

1 and 2. The trip starts in Colbert County with two books. The first book is Muscle Shoals Sound Studio about the famous music studio where an estimated 400 gold records have been recorded. The other is The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. While you are in Colbert County, visit the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals and Helen Keller’s birthplace, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia. Before you leave grab a burger at Rattlesnake Saloon, a unique outdoor restaurant nestled under a natural stone bluff.


3. Next, head south to Phil Campbell in Franklin County. Read Cotton Was King by Butch Walker. The book tells the story of Chickasaw Chief George Colbert who owned a cotton plantation before white planters began moving into the area to claim land for themselves. Phil Campbell is home to Dismals Canyon. The walls of the canyon are lined thousands of bioluminescent creatures called dismalites. At night the walls of the canyon glow from the light of the tiny glow worms. If you plan to visit The Dismals at night, you can stop at Sheffield on your way to the canyons and have dinner at George’s Steak Pit, where Colbert County residents have been eating for the last 60 years

4. Now visit Haleyville in Winston County, the home of the first 911 call. Read Black Hawk by Darrell Brock, which is based on the life of the author’s real life great grandfather who was a Winston County farmer during the turmoil leading up to the Civil War. While in the area, visit Natural Bridge, AL where you can see the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies. If you’re looking for a place to eat, try Chef Troy’s Talk of the Town in Houston. 

5. From Winston County, we’ll head to Hamilton in Marion County. Our book here is Of Mules and Mud about Jerry Brown, a famous potter from the area. You can visit the pottery which is the only known mule-powered pug mill still operating in the United States and you can even purchase your own pieces. Try eating at Frosty Front in Guin. It’s been in business for over 70 years. 

6. Up next is Sulligent in Lamar County. Our book here is Deep South Dynasty about one of Alabama’s most prominent families, the Bankheads. While you’re here, you can ride by and see the Greer Bankhead House, built in 1850 by James Greer Bankhead, father of John H. Bankhead, who served in the United States Congress for 33 years. John’s sons William B. and John H. Bankhead II were both born in the house and also served in Congress. William B. Bankhead’s daughter was the famous American actress, Tallulah Bankhead. For a bite to eat, J’s Country Squire has steaks, catfish and caramel pie.  Or you can mosey over to nearby Fayette in Fayette County and enjoy some barbecue at Sam’s Smokehouse on your way to Walker County.

7. Our next stop is Jasper, in Walker County and our book is The Well and the Mine. The book, written by Gin Phillips, is set in Walker County in the 1930’s. Here you can shop around Jasper’s historic downtown square, tour the home of William B, Bankhead and hike in the Bankhead National Forest. While you’re on the square, grab a bite to eat at Black Rock Bistro. 

8. From Walker County we’ll head north to the tiny town of Mooresville in Limestone County. Since part of the 1995 movie, Tom and Huck was filmed here, our book is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. While you’re in Mooresville, you can tour the town in your own or schedule a tour guided by one of the town’s 53 residents.  1818 Farms is in Mooresville and they make wonderful hand creams and lip balms.They also schedule tours and special events that you might be able to sign up for. Stop by Dogwood and Magnolia Bakery for something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

9. Driving north from Mooresville, we have to stop in Elkmont to tour Belle Chèvre Artisan Creamery to learn how goat cheese is made and taste some yummy goat cheese. If you need more than samples, the Tasting Room at Belle Chèvre has sandwiches, salads and ice cream. While there you can probably pick up the book, Tasia’s Table. It is a collection of stories and recipes from the award winning cheese maker who started Belle Chèvre.

Finally, because this is a loop and you can actually start at any point on the tour, we end up back almost where we started in Lauderdale County. Read If the Legends Fade by Tom Hendrix, about the author’s great great grandmother, a Cherokee woman who, forced leave her home for Oklahoma on the trail of tears, walked all the way back home to the singing waters of the Tennessee River. You can see the memorial Hendrix built to honor his ancestor, the largest un-mortared rock wall in the Inited States and the largest memorial to a Native American woman. After you walk the tranquil, meditative mile long path, drive to downtown Florence and enjoy a delicious and creative lunch at YUMM Thai Sushi. Then dash across the street to Trowbridge’s for an orange pineapple ice cream cone

There you go! Enjoy your books and your Rock ‘n Romance trip through beautiful northwest Alabama. .

Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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