May 16

Last of Lee County’s markers

When I graduated from high school I had this poster under my ceremonial costume. It said something like “Thanks Mom! On to Auburn.” I’d been working at that for a while. The grades were no problem, but the money was tight. Two days after graduation I got my scholarship offer and off I went. And so I attended school there for five years. And then I left, because there was no work there in town. I would have stayed. But I went into the world instead and started making my way through it.

In graduate school I met my future wife and on a date the next fall I took her to Auburn and she liked it. And then when she finished graduate school she got a job offer at Auburn. There was no suitable half way spot, and Auburn is a nice place to live and so we moved there. And we stayed for six years. Until today, when we finished loading up the car and brushing away tears and drove off into the midday sun.

In between good things happened and great things happened and sad things happened. Life happened.

One of the many smaller things that I did was to start riding bikes. And from there I started seeking out all of these historic markers all over the county. Today the Lee County project is officially completed. This is the last such site and, before we signed the papers selling our house today, this was the last thing I did. I visited Pine Hill Cemetery.

Pine Hill Cemetery

And this is fitting. A small part of what I am now is because of Auburn. And a small part of what I am now is because of my appreciation for history. My mother asked me once why I liked history so much. I thought of two answers. I finally got lucky and had a history teacher who taught the material as more than names and dates. That stuck with me. But, when I was in undergrad at Auburn I found Pine Hill. It was an old cemetery that the city had almost forgotten about — which is a total Auburn thing to do, ignoring its own history — but they’d undertaken a big project about the time that I showed up to revitalize the place.

As well they should. I love this place. I’m not the sort of person that hangs out in cemeteries, but this place is special. There are about 100 Civil War soldiers there. The man my high school was named after is buried there. The names on the buildings and roads in Auburn are almost all buried right here, in Pine Hill. And somehow, one day, that stuck with me too. It wasn’t names and dates, but people’s lives. History isn’t an abstraction if you walk through the doors of a place named in honor of the person resting right here.

So, as I said, fitting that I would be here last. I saved it for just that reason. You can see my pictures from Pine Hill Cemetery right here. If you want to see all of Lee County, Alabama’s historical markers click here.

May 16

The penultimate Lee County historic markers post

OK, next to last set of marker shots from Lee County, Alabama. This particular project wraps next week, but first there are two markers and a locally-quarried stone marker within a block of each other. They mark the history of Auburn and the place where town and gown meet at Toomer’s Corner. Also there, the old Auburn Bank (which was until recently a series of bars and is now a pizza joint).

Toomer's Corner

That is the gate onto campus, donated by the class of 1917. The eagles had previously perched atop the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Building in Philadelphia and then in a yard there for some years. They arrived in Auburn in 1961 where they stayed until being removed for renovation in 2011. The ones you see here are actually re-casted replications of the originals, which have been removed. The transition is, thus, complete. Everything feels like a gift shop now.

You can see all about the downtown markers here. Check out my entire run of the county’s historic markers here.

May 16

A few more historical markers

After this, you can count them on one hand. You can count a lot of things on one hand these days. Anyway, as a refresher, I started some years ago riding my bicycle around the county to take pictures of all of the historic markers. And then I took a very long time off that project. And now I’m wrapping up the project in these last few small batches. You can see them all here. Or you can read a little bit about the sites below and then hit the links to the specific posts.

For instance, during the Civil war, the college was closed and, after the Battle of Atlanta, used as a hospital. I always imagine being wounded and having to make that trip from Atlanta. It was July and hot. It is a good hour and change by interstate today. What must that have been like? Anyway, the chapel was one of the facilities used as a hospital. It is the oldest building in town.

Auburn University Chapel

Also, it is said to be haunted by the spirit of a Confederate soldier. See the markers.

Now this contraption was used to make cannons.

The Lathe

Later it had other industrial uses, lathes being versatile machines. When it was retired it was brought to town and now it is on display with one humble little marker. Legend has it that if you go to the lathe at the right time of night under the right moon and do a dance and say a few chants … you’re doing a dance and saying a few chants. Also, the lathe will move. But that’s just a legend. See more about the lathe here.

Max Morris was a student, and later a hero, and then a warrior. He was one of the Frozen Chosin. And the university named its drill field in his honor. After service was no long compulsory the ROTC of course shrank in size. Eventually the drill field became …

Max Adams Morris Drill Field

You can learn more about Max Morris, and see the ROTC facility, here.

Here are two extras. Right by the lathe is the big iconic building. And on it are a few extra little historical notes. This one notes the campus being used as a hospital.


And this one is the cornerstone to the iconic administrative building. It isn’t the original, which burned in the 1880s, but this one, the replacement, still predates most things still standing around here now.


May 16

More markers

The county’s historic markers are still out there. I’m still out there, pedaling around to see them and take pictures, just because they are there and I can do it. There are just six or seven more, after today’s pair.

Founders' Oak

This tree is important. Why is this tree important? You will find out here.

Desegregation at Auburn

There are two buildings here. This one is where the historic event happen. The second is the building named after one of the players in this part of the story. Click here to find out all about it.

Apr 16

Riding for markers

There are four entries on the marker site for you to check out today. First, there’s The Bottle, which is one of those first curiosities you see in town if you come by a certain route.

The Bottle

Across the street is just a regular convenience store. On the sign you learn there that The Bottle, a place with a great deal of character to it in the old roadside Americana vein, burned in the 1930s. What’s there now is the most Alabama thing you could possibly do with the space. See more about The Bottle here.

Rosenwald School

See more about ths Rosenwald school here. The schools were named for Julius Rosenwald, president and later chairman of Sears Roebuck & Co., who, along with Booker T. Washington, started the program. There were more than 5,000 Rosenwald schools built nationally and a few hundred of those were established throughout Alabama. This was the first one. To read more about the Alabama version, click here. You can see a slightly better version of the photo in the marker here.

And just down the road from that is the Loachapoka Historic District. It was a railroad boom town, which meant it was also a railroad bust town. There are two markers within a few feet of one another here.

Boom and Change

It’s a sleepy little piece of sand now. You can see the markers here. Also, in the local Native American dialect, Muskogee, Loachapoka means “turtle killing place.”