This trip will lead me on a 14-day tour of eastern Alabama, western Georgia and a slice of Tennessee.
After quiet night at the Rood Creek Landing campsite, located in the Eufaula NWR in Georgia, I drive a short distance to a part of this wildlife refuge that lies within the state of Alabama.
Here, I find a large property with a few gravel roads, where flora and fauna is protected and nature lovers can find and observe a variety of birds and flowers, that change with every season.
A wildlife observation hut and tower offer unobstructed views of wildlife, estuary and river.
On Jan. 3, 1966, Sammy Younge Jr., a 21-year-old Black college student, was murdered for trying to use a bathroom, which was then reserved for white customers — at a service station in Tuskegee.
The gas station is preserved with the bathroom well visible from outside; a marker at the end of the property, describes the important history of this site.
Tuskegee Airmen NHS
Only a few miles away, at Moton Field, the contributions of African-American airmen in World War II is commemorated.
Moton Field was the site of primary flight training for the pioneering pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. It was constructed in 1941 as a new training base.
Before 1940, African Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations and the black press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941.
They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. “Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
Notasulga Rosenwald School
A few miles further north, I find the Notasulga Rosenwald School, an positive example of how better education became available for the black community.
The Rosenwald School project built more than 5,000 schools, shops, and teacher homes in the United States primarily for the education of African-American children in the South during the early 20th century. The need arose from the chronic underfunding of public education for African-American children in the South, as black people had been discriminated against at the turn of the century and excluded from the political system in that region. Children were required to attend segregated schools, and even those did not exist in many places.
Syphilis Study Benches
Next door, in front of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist church, you will find two old benches under an old tree, where African American males in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study would wait to have their blood samples drawn by Nurse Eunice Rivers.
The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the African American was an infamous and unethical clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church was the first recruitment site for the experiment.
By the end of the study in 1972, only 74 of the test subjects were alive. Of the original 399 men, 28 had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.
Notasulga Shiloh Cemetery
The School, the Church and the Cemetery were used during the course of the 40 year “U.S. Public Health Service Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male in Macon County”.
Smith Mountain Fire Tower
At the next location, a short 0.5 mile hike brings you to the foot of the fire tower. Smith Mountain overlooks Lake Martin outside of Auburn.
Standing 780 feet above the lakeshore and 80 feet above the ground, this tower offers sweeping views of Lake Martin and the rolling countryside it was built to protect.
Devil’s Den Waterfall
When I finally arrive at the Lake Chinnabee trailhead to the waterfall, it is already getting dark and I need to hurry, to get to it.
A not too long, easy trail leads to under the waterfall and while the falls are not big, it has a big poo in front of it, where you can hop in and cool down. Joey did exactly that; after a whole day of hiking, just sitting in the water was probably the best thing, he did today.
30 Minutes later, I got back to the van and drove a couple of miles to the High Falls & Odum Scout trailhead boondocking site.
- Rood Creek Landing campsite ➜ 32.0245,-85.0361
- Eufaula NWR ➜ 32.0055,-85.0920
- Tuskegee Gasstation ➜ 32.4244,-85.6893
- Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site ➜ 32.4557,-85.6820
- Notasulga Syphilis Experiment ➜ 32.5281,-85.6777
- Notasulga Rosenwald School ➜ 32.5274,-85.6779
- Smith Mountain Fire Tower ➜ 32.8100,-85.8383
- Devil’s Den Waterfall ➜ 33.4609,-85.8743