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In the 1880s, railroad crew leader & engineer Phillip Campbell was working in SE Franklin County. Local businessman Mel Allen said that if Campbell built a depot & side track for the railroad, Allen would develop a town & name it for him. Both men followed through, & Phil Campbell is one of only two towns in Alabama with an individual’s first & last names -- the other is Susan Moore. Join MSNHA photographer Joshua Grigsby this week in his Found Places series as he explores Phil Campbell.
Unveiled as part of Red Bay’s 100th birthday celebration in 2007, the Tiffin Supply Company Mural illustrates the family-owned businesses & industries that continue to support Red Bay. The Tiffin family opened a general store in Red Bay in 1941, bought a cotton gin in 1965 and, in 1972, bought a failed RV business that became Tiffin Motorhomes – one of the few remaining family-operated manufacturers in the industry. Photo by Josh Grigsby.
Artist Shawn Wallace was commissioned to create this mural, “Life in Red Bay,” in 2007 as part of the town’s centennial celebration. Located on a building near downtown and Bay Tree Park, the mural depicts Red Bay’s heritage of railroads, agriculture and logging. It also highlights individuals who contributed significantly to the town’s development & growth and is included on the newly launched Alabama Mural Trail. Photo by Josh Grigsby.
The Red Bay Museum is the result of a grassroots effort to preserve artifacts from the town’s history. In the 1980s-'90s, former U.S. Rep. Carl Elliot researched & wrote “One Hundred Years of Memories: An Oral History of Red Bay, Alabama 1888-1988" w/ help from Red Bay Civitan Club. The project sparked a community effort to establish a museum that told Red Bay’s stories. Exhibits include a celebration of country music star Tammy Wynette, who considered Red Bay her hometown. Photo by Josh Grigsby
The site where Red Bay, in Franklin County, eventually developed was originally Chickasaw land as part of the Mississippi Territory. Enough Euro-Americans had settled there by 1890 to establish a post office. Red Bay was incorporated in 1907, when it became a stop on the Illinois Central Railroad. Rail access led to the town’s growth as a lumber-cutting & -shipping center. Photo by MSNHA photographer Joshua Grigsby as part of his ongoing Found Places series
Hodges’ population is around 300, but the town sees plenty of visitors on their way to nearby outdoor destinations such as Rock Bridge Canyon, along TVA’s 670-acre Bear Creek Reservoir. The canyon has steep & rocky hiking & equestrian trails. Boating, camping & fishing are on the reservoir. Little Bear Creek to the north offers similar activities. Also near Hodges is Dismals Canyon, a Registered National Natural Landmark with flora, fauna & geological formations. Photo by Joshua Grigsby.
In 1880s-90s, Phil Campbell was general manager of Sheffield, Birmingham, and Tennessee River Railway Co. Under his supervision, the railroad extended to Birmingham, bringing economic benefit by allowing north Alabama iron companies to transport more products & bringing new tracks to Franklin County. Store owner Mel Allen told Campbell he'd name his small settlement after Campbell for a new train depot. Incorporated in 1911, the town was the only 1 in the state with someone's first & last name.
Some elements of Hodges’ early history seem to be missing. For example, where did the name come from? Tradition says the town was named for a prominent early family, with one source noting Thomas Marion Hodges (1868-1947) as the town's namesake. And, Hodges was incorporated initially in 1913, but for some reason the incorporation lapsed & was reincorporated in 1919. We do know that in the early 1920s, it had a cotton gin, a sawmill & grist mill and several general stores. Photo by Joshua Grigsby
During World War II, Hodges’ war-bond effort was so successful that the town got to name a fighter plane. “The Spirit of Hodges” was modified in Birmingham and used in both Germany & Japan. In planning for Hodges’ 100th anniversary in 2007, community organizers decided to host a fall festival named in honor of the plane & the town’s rich history. The festival has been held most years since. It includes music, art, crafts and local food such as barbecue & baked goods. Photo by Joshua Grigsby.
Hodges anchors Franklin County’s southern border at about its midpoint, putting it on the Appalachian Mountains’ southern edge with gentle hills & valleys that contrast with neighboring counties’ flat river-delta land. The Hodges area was first settled in the 1880s & called “Reid Brake.” The town itself was laid out in 1907 on land owned by John Farr & located on a branch of the Illinois Central Railroad. Join MSNHA photographer Joshua Grigsby for his Found Places series on Hodges.
Russellville was incorporated in 1819 & named for Maj. William Russell, a local who helped build Jackson's Military Road. The U.S. government authorized the road in 1816 to connect Nashville & New Orleans. It was named for Gen. Andrew Jackson in honor of his War of 1812 victories, and Jackson oversaw the construction. Russellville grew at this road's intersection with the Gaines Trace, a road built in 1811-1812 from the Tennessee to the Tombigbee rivers. Photo by Joshua Grigsby
Russellville, the Franklin County seat, is home to about 10,000 people. High-schoolers in decades past spent evenings “cruising” Jackson Avenue, downtown Russellville’s main street. Today, it’s pedestrian-friendly & lined with restaurants, shops & other businesses. Russellville is also a destination for history lovers and a starting point for outdoor adventures such as hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting and more. MSNHA photographer explores Russellville in his Found Places series.
A large portion of the top floor of the Red Bay AL museum is dedicated to country music star Tammy Wynette, originally from Tremont, MS where she was born and went to school. Being the closest town to where she lived, she called Red Bay, Alabama her hometown where she shopped, visited relatives and went to the movie theater.
Dismals Canyon is a sandstone gorge near Phil Campbell in Franklin County, Alabama. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in May 1974. Dismals Canyon is one of only a few places where insects called dismalites (Orfelia fultoni, a distant relative of Arachnocampa) can be found. The larval forms of these flies emit a bright blue-green light to attract food and mates. They cover the canyon wall. The canyon is home to two waterfalls, Secret Falls and Rainbow Falls, and six natural bridges.Dism