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Beautiful scenery sets the stage for northern Alabama adventures

Published: Mar/Apr 2003

Ivy Green in Tuscumbia is the birthplace of Helen Keller. It features many original furnishings. /North Alabama Tourism Association
If you have ever seen a tapestry, you have some idea what to expect in Alabama’s 16 northern counties. This place is like a picture created with threads and colors, weavings and artistry. Together, they form a masterful work of art.

The natural wonders within this 100-mile radius were contributed by Mother Nature who flung down caves and caverns, mountain laurels and honeysuckle, waterfalls and rivers, fish and wildlife. Tall trees and sprawling lakes also are here along with state parks, Bankhead National Forest and Little River Canyon.

With the background painted by a benevolent Mother Nature, man came along and enhanced the tapestry, carving in walking trails, establishing a wildlife refuge, planting botanical gardens, constructing covered bridges and engineering boats to traverse waterways.

To unravel these threads, visitors can head out on walking or driving tours or survey the waters aboard riverboats–the Free State Lady in Winston County or Alabama Princess in Gadsden. Some have discovered the affordable escape at Goose Pond Colony, an expansive municipal park with golf, camping, cottages, pool, boat launch and marina.

Man was kind and gentle when he adopted these lands filled with rushing streams and massive trees. He added, but did not detract. In the 1970s Decatur became the nation’s first place to have a wave pool. Before that decade, men toiled in Huntsville to fulfill the nation’s role in a space program remembered today at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

With the tapestry in place, people were quick to discover the joys of fishing, golfing, boating and hiking. At Russell Cave, the state’s only national monument, there are clues hinting at inhabitants who lived and worked here thousands of years ago.

Once people came, it was just a matter of time before some distinguished themselves, leaving legacies. North Alabama is the birthplace of Helen Keller, a deaf and blind woman who earned a college degree and championed the cause of others with similar challenges. Born here also were blues great W.C. Handy, Confederate Gen. Joe Wheeler, and track star Jesse Owens.

The state’s early years are remembered today in Huntsville, where Alabama Constitution Village, a living history museum, shows what life was like when Alabama's statehood was bestowed. Where nature leaves off, man intervenes in this segment of the state where there are more than 100 attractions including art galleries, museums, indoor stages and outdoor amphitheaters. There’s also plenty of great music showcased at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and other places.

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