[Take Me HOME]
Deep South Tour: Birmingham
First stop: Alabama's famous
(By the way, searching for that link turned up a ton of
on the Web... who knew?) Our guide went to great lenghts to reinforce one point:
to their knowledge, Cathdral Caverns is the largest commercially operated cave in
the world. With the double caveats I'm not sure how impressed to be, but for sure it
was a big cave. The mouth is 80 feet by 120 feet. The formations inside
were not as beautiful as those I've seen elsewhere. This is a place where size matters.
Their centerpiece formation is a really huge column, a stalactite that met a stalagmite
and kept on growing. Here's a (slightly enhanced) picture of some of the formations:
You didn't think we'd miss the Princess Leia photo did you?
After that we completed the long drive to Birmingham, where we scored
another fine barbecue meal at
Dreamland Barbecue. We finished off with a relaxing evening
in the pleasant Five Points South area of town.
Civil Rights Institute,
16th Street Baptist,
Kelly Ingram Park
& Sloss Furnaces
First thing in the morning we visited the
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
They offer another take on the civil rights museum, where we were interested to see
that one of the guys we met while visiting the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery
had participated in the Birmingham children's crusade. He appeared in a
video retrospective as part of one of the exhibits. At the end of the tour we
stopped in at an unusually good exhibition of art by students in an area graduate program.
The Civil Rights Institute is located right across the street from two landmarks
of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham. The first is the
16th Street Baptist Church,
which is the church that became a national icon in 1963 after
Klansmen set off a bomb that damaged the church
and killed four young girls. (This was part of over 50
such racially motivated attacks that earned the city the nickname "Bombingham".)
Across a different street lies Kelly Ingram Park, which became internationally
infamous when Public Safety Commissioner
had his men open the
fire hoses and loose police dogs on children marching in protest of segregation.
Next we took a tour of the
which for years was one of the largest employers in
Birmingham, supplying pig iron for making steel. The remaining structures are very cool
to look at, and I'm sure would make great material for a serious photographer.
(At the official Sloss Furnaces Web site you can even download a screen saver of
photographs. You also get great results with a
search for Sloss images at Google.) You could argue that these pictures belong on our
Photo Tour of Southern Industry, but we think
they're interesting enough to merit a place here as well.
Here's a rusty old earth mover with spare scoopers:
Here's another shot of the scooper:
The water tower:
We strolled all over the grounds:
After that we got hungry and headed over for a big "meat-and-three" lunch at
Niki's West. And then we headed north again. We spent the night at a little place on
Lewis Smith Lake in the William B Bankhead National Forest.