From the Civil War to the Great Depression to the country's space race, Alabama has been part of some of the most significant American historical changes. Here are just a few of the many historic sites in the state.
One of the oldest surviving ballparks, Rickwood Field is in strikingly good condition. Opened in 1910 to a delighted crowd of 10,000, many of the park's original features remain today such as the manual scoreboard, press box, and vintage outfield advertising signs. In its heyday, the field was graced by such legendary players as Stan Musial, "Satchell" Page and the most famous of all Alabama Sluggers, Willie Mays. The field now hosts an annual Rickwood Classic and remains a tribute to America's pastime.
Fort Tyler (Lanett)
On April 16, 1865, seven days after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Union troops attacked this earthen fort atop the highest hill in West Point, Georgia (just across the river from Lanett, Alabama). The day-long battle ended with Fort Tyler in Union hands, the last Confederate fort to be captured. Each year on the anniversary of the battle, Civil War re-enactors at the reconstructed fort display life in the West Point era on the day of the battle.
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
The Tuskegee Institute served not only as a center for educating freed slaves and their children, but also became a beacon of hope for all African Americans in the decades after emancipation. Officially opened on July 4 1881 as the Tuskegee Normal School with Booker T. Washington as its first principal, the original buildings were built by the students themselves with bricks made in the Institute's brickyard. Today the original institute is a national historic site located on the campus of modern-day Tuskegee University, and includes the George Washington Carver Museum.
Old Alabama Town
Old Alabama Town is the South's premier historic village. The Town features over 40 restored 19th and 20th century structures, all of which stretch along six blocks in downtown Montgomery. Visitors can relive and experience the lives of those who settled and developed the area.
Historic Fort Gaines
Begun in 1821, this five-sided fort on Dauphin Island took over 25 years to construct, with final work being completed by Confederate forces at the onset of the Civil War. The fort played an important role in the Battle of Mobile Bay, one of the war's most notable naval battles of the war. In 1898 the fort received additional armament as a result of the Spanish-American War. Following World War I, the Fort was sold to the City of Mobile and later deeded to the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board. The Fort was used periodically for training by both the National Guard and the Coast Guard, but has served primarily as a tourist attraction since the 1930's.
Pond Spring was the plantation home of legendary Confederate Calvary Major General Joe Wheeler. After the war, Wheeler studied law before being elected to Congress in 1880. In 1898, he left Capitol Hill to serve as Major General of Volunteers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. His national stature made "Fighting" Joe Wheeler a symbol for reunification and reconciliation. The Pond Spring Wheeler home has over 50 acres with 12 historic buildings and a family cemetery.