Many of Alabama’s cities have fascinating histories, and I would count Anniston, the Model City, among them. Anniston had its beginnings as a planned community during the Reconstruction Era. It started with a business deal between Samuel Noble, whose family owned a large iron company in Georgia, and Daniel Tyler, a railroad manager and former iron manufacturer and Union general. The Noble family had purchased a large plot of iron- and timber-rich land in east Alabama, but needed investors to develop it. Together, Noble and Tyler formed the Woodstock Iron Company in 1872. A year later, its first furnace began churning out more than 100 tons of pig iron a week, using charcoal (made from the surrounding timber) as fuel.
My love for books is equally accompanied by my love for movies. Whenever I find out one of my favorite books is going to be made into a movie, I am filled with both excitement and apprehension. In my experience, directors and screenplay writers are rarely able to do a great book justice on the big screen. Still, it is fun to see characters that you have only seen in your head come to life. Though Alabama has never been the #1 destination for movies to be filmed, several movies have been filmed on location here in recent history.
Three summers ago, I had the opportunity to intern at my congressman’s office in Washington, DC. One of my duties was to help with tours of the Capitol, and one of its many interesting features is the National Statuary Hall Collection. Throughout the building are statues from the collection representing the fifty states. Since 1864, each state has been allowed to donate up to two statues of important figures in its history to the collection, which was completed in 2005. States may still donate new statues, but they must replace an existing one. Originally, all statues were housed in Statuary Hall, but as the collection grew, statues had to be moved to other areas of the Capitol. Currently, Alabama’s two statues are Joseph Wheeler, located in Statuary Hall, and Helen Keller, located in the Visitor’s Center.
As an Alabama Heritage intern, this semester I have the amazing privilege to have my first piece of work published professionally. When Dr. Reynolds offered me the opportunity, I jumped at the chance. I knew much planning and scheduling would go into making the article come to fruition. Once it was decided that my article would be an Alabama Makers department piece, it was easier for me to narrow down about whom I would be writing. Luckily for me, it was the fall semester and the Kentuck Festival of the Arts was a couple of weeks away. Sara Martin, the Alabama Heritage marketing director, suggested I take a look at the festival lineup for a possible subject of my article.
For most of my life, I have lived within five miles of Interstate 20. If I want to go somewhere outside of a ten-mile area, my trip is probably going to include, if not consist mostly of, I-20. I have often complained about the highway, and I’m probably not the only one. I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t construction going on somewhere, causing delays and traffic jams. Right now, work is underway on widening the section around Tuscaloosa to six lanes. A few years ago, a large stretch east of Birmingham had one direction at a time completely shut down for several months for resurfacing. For a few years before that, the widening of the hilly portion between Leeds and Pell City dragged on, with traffic crawling through the area. Those are just a few of the construction projects that have gone on recently. Work on replacing bridges in downtown Birmingham is planned to begin next year and is expected to cause closures for up to sixteen months. Eventually, the highway is supposed to be at least six lanes all the way across the state. We’ll probably have flying cars by then.
One of the most vital vehicle and arms storage and maintenance facilities for the US Military is located right here in Alabama. The Anniston Army Depot (ANAD), or just “The Depot” to those of us who live nearby, had its beginnings during World War II. As the war raged in Europe, the US War Department began constructing 500 ammunition storage igloos, six standard magazines (supply stores), twenty warehouses, and administrative buildings on a more than 10,000-acre plot near Anniston, Alabama, in February 1941. In October, just two months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the site was officially designated Anniston Ordnance Depot, with a staff of only four. With the entry of the US into the war and the rapid increase in military production, the depot expanded to more than 15,000 acres and 4,339 employees by November 1942.
I come from a small town in Alabama with a population of less than two thousand. Most people don’t have any idea where Munford is (right between Talladega and Oxford) and probably haven’t even heard of it. At best, they might have seen the Munford/Coldwater exit on I-20. We only have one stop light, and I can easily list every business. There are a gas station/grocery store, Munford Foodmart; a Jack’s; a Dollar General; a Shell station; two local restaurants, Big Daddy’s BBQ and Chubbie Chicks; a bakery, Clark’s Catering & Bakery; an auto shop, Dabb’s Auto; and a hardware store, Carter’s Hardware. We also have a school system, which is actually one of the best in the region, thanks in large part to partnerships with the U.S. Forestry Service. So, our town is not exactly a big tourist destination. It does, however, have one claim to fame: a little-known Civil War historical site.
There is a reason we have the metaphor “That is music to my ears.” It represents the joy and even excitement that something stirs inside of you—much the same way that music can invoke a spirit of joy and an excited mood. I, myself, love music! I turn it on when I wake up. I cannot drive anywhere until I have the proper playlist on. And although I have not been blessed with an angelic voice, I cannot help singing in the shower. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. For example, I can hardly pass a person on campus on the way to class who does not have a pair of headphones in their ear.
On a dark day in 1929 when the clouds hung low over our farm on a red clay hill in Tuscaloosa County, my sisters and I huddled around the fireplace with Daddy. In the kitchen Mama clattered pans preparing midday dinner. She didn’t have much to work with as Daddy had lost his job when the mines closed: turnip greens, com pone, and baked sweet potatoes.
Suddenly an ear-shocking sound swooped low overhead, rattling our house, and bringing us to our feet. We ran outside in time to see an airplane drop out of the clouds and land on our muddy field. Few airplanes came our way. Never before had we seen one on the ground. Staying a safe distance from this one, we stared at the two men sitting in the open cockpits.
One of them climbed down and shouted, “Where are we?” in an accent strange to us. He looked rosy-cheeked, young, and well fed. So did the other man when he joined us. They were brothers, Frank and Stanley, from Illinois, with an unpronounceable last name. They were on their way to Florida when their fuel ran low.
Two years ago I had the opportunity to go on a volunteer trip to Tanzania with GIVE (Growth International Volunteer Excursions, a group I learned about from a class presentation at the University of Alabama). It was a two-week-long trip with the additional option to climb Mount Kilimanjaro during a third week. I thought about it a lot, wondering if the extra money for the climb was worth it. In the end I decided to do it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. It also happened to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Here’s a little information about Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is the world’s tallest free-standing (not connected to a mountain range) mountain at 19,341 feet. It has three volcanic cones: Shibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. The latter two cones are extinct, but the first is dormant, with possibility of eruption. The hike up usually takes 7-10 days with the hike up taking up a larger portion of the trip because your body needs time to acclimate to the altitude change. My trip was four days up and three days down, but many of the other hikers in my group still struggled with the change in altitude on the way up.
Alabama Heritage BLOG
At Alabama Heritage, we owe many of our successes and smooth operations to our fabulous student interns. We hope that with this blog, written mostly by our student interns, our readers will have an opportunity to get to know the students who bring so much to the table with their enthusiasm, hard work, and expertise!
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