America is full of weird and wacky exhibits throughout the country, and Alabama is no exception. There are plenty of places that are out of the ordinary in the Yellowhammer State. From the final resting place of beloved coonhounds to a monkey in space, you can find the most unusual attractions here. If you are up for something completely different, make sure to stop by these places on your next trip to Alabama.
Whiskey Bottle Tombstone – Clayton
In a small town outside of Clayton, there is a unique tombstone in the cemetery. You can find the grave of William T. Mullen in the Clayton Town Cemetery. While there are many places with unusual grave markers, this particular site has a story tied to it. In the late 1800s, Mullen’s wife wanted him to stop drinking. She threatened to bury her husband under a whiskey bottle-shaped tombstone if he didn’t stop his habit. Unfortunately, Mr. Mullen didn’t quit, and he passed away in 1863. Mrs. Mullen made good on her threat. Visitors are welcome to stop by and visit William T. Mullen. His grave has now become a tourist spot. As you enter the cemetery, his final resting place is on your left and under a granite whiskey bottle marker.
Monkeynaut Memorial – Huntsville
Huntsville is the home of another unusual grave. During the 1950s, the United States sent monkeys into space to test their rockets. Miss Baker was a squirrel monkey who was the first U.S animal to head into space and return alive. She was placed inside the rocket’s nose and took off 360 miles to the edge of space. After her journey, she lived a long life with many pampered amenities. In 1984, Miss Baker passed away, and her final resting place is outside the main entrance of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. A giant pillar marks the spot with the inscription of “First U.S. Animal to Fly in Space and Return Alive.” Many visitors pay their respects to the “monkeynaut,” and it is a tradition to leave a banana on her grave.
Coon Dog Cemetery – Cherokee
In the wilderness of Freedom Hills, you can find the final resting place of Alabama’s most beloved coonhounds. In 1937, Key Underwood buried his faithful dog, Troop, in a popular hunting camp and erected a unique marker. Out of his devotion to his dog, the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard was created. Hunters from all over buried their coon dogs at this spot.
You can find over 185 graves marking the final resting place of these animals. This graveyard is the only cemetery of its type in the world, and it has become a popular tourist attraction in the state. As you walk throughout the grounds, you can find headstones crafted from stone, wood, and even sheet metal. In addition to Troop, there are other famous coon dogs buried in the cemetery, including Purina’s Dog of the Year and several World Champion coonhounds.
Boll Weevil Monument – Enterprise
In downtown Enterprise, you can find a monument to the pest that decimated the cotton industry in the south. As farmers were losing crops to boll weevils, H.M Sessions had an idea to convert his land into a peanut farm. He was successful in his venture, and many farmers started to switch to peanut crops. In the process, Coffee County was one of the most economically prosperous areas in the state. Many years later, Bon Fleming wanted to build a statue to honor the community of Enterprise in the face of adversity.
At the corner of College and Main Street, the monument was dedicated on December 11, 1919. This statue is the world’s first built to honor a pest. The memorial features a woman holding a boll weevil on a pedestal. Over the years, the Boll Weevil Monument has been the spot for vandalism. After an incident in 1998, the original statue was damaged and moved to the Enterprise Depot Museum. A polymer-resin replica now stands in the original’s place. You can still visit the monument dedicated to the tenacity of the Enterprise community.
African Village in America – Birmingham
Since 1989, Joe Minter has been loading up his yard with totems and shrines as he creates a different type of art exhibition. It is called the “African Village in America,” and it features many art displays dedicated to African-American history. Minter uses whatever he can find to build his displays, including baking pans, footwear, hubcaps, and sports equipment.
If you go there, you might be lucky to have a personal tour with Joe as he leads you through the pathways and alleys of the Village. He has created African masks from barbecue lids and painted pickup gates with Biblical passages. In addition to the Village, there are two African American cemeteries located near the property. The Village is opened during daylight hours, and admission is free. If you want to take a souvenir home, Joe does offer a DVD and book of the exhibits for sale.
Pickens County Courthouse – Carrollton
What would be a weird and wacky trip without a paranormal attraction? In Pickens County, a ghostly face appears in the local courthouse. According to one version of the local lore, the face belongs to a man by the name of Henry Wells. He was wrongly accused of burning down the previous courthouse. As he awaited trial, Wells peered out of the window just as lightning struck. Since that time, his image has been etched in the window. In 1974, the Alabama Historical Association chronicled the event with a marker retelling the story of the mysterious face in the window. Depending on the angle, you can still see the face of Henry Wells in the glass. The courthouse even has installed an arrow and a sign pointing to the location of the image.
On your next visit to Alabama, make sure you skip the standard attractions and add some of the more unique places to your itinerary.