Traveling the back roads of the United States, one often comes across strange sights and unusual monuments. Last year in Idaho, everything was potato related (see Famous Potatoes). In parts of the Midwest, it’s fairly common to come across 8 foot tall versions of the Statue of Liberty (see Weekend in Wichita (and western Kansas)) or bronze statues of Abraham Lincoln (Meet Me in St. Louis). On my recent visit to Alabama, I came across what might be the most unusual monument I’ve ever seen.
The Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Alabama.
The monument stands in the middle of Main Street, just a block from the county courthouse in the business district of Enterprise. It is, as you can see, a statue of a woman holding aloft an over-sized boll weevil. Unfortunately, the sun was directly behind the statue when I arrived, but I did my best to photograph it head on regardless. It may look impressive, but don’t be fooled. The entire monument is only 13 feet high and stands in the middle of the main intersection in town. Here’s a better shot for perspective.
Why a monument to the insect that devastated the cotton crop about 100 years ago? It forced the town to start growing peanuts alongside of cotton, and that diversification lead the area to greater prosperity. Well, that’s the story. Here’s what the sign describing the monument says.
Okay, enough about the Boll Weevil monument.
My three day trip covered roughly 1,600 miles, and included stops in 32 county seats, though only 31 counties. Coffee County in Alabama is one of those unusual counties that has two county seats, Elba and Enterprise--home of the unusual monument (see how all this stuff fits together ). I also made my first three stays of the year at three separate brands (Marriott, Springhill Suites, and Fairfield Inn). The Marriott in Columbus, Georgia is decent, though showing a bit of wear in a few places. While the CL was closed for the weekend, they do have a very nice restaurant. The breakfast buffet, while not exceptional, was better than most CL breakfasts. Their lounge is key card accessible for water and soft drinks even on the weekends. Naturally, this location serves Coca Cola as Columbus was where the beverage was invented and is the final resting place its creator, John Pemberton.
Part of the reason to visit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida this time of year was to escape winter in the Midwest (even if just for a few days). I really lucked out with regards to the weather. My departure from CMH on Friday occurred about an hour or so before a big winter storm dropped about 6 inches of snow on the area. Although the weather in the south was chilly (40s and 50s) it beat the subfreezing temperatures back home. By Saturday afternoon, the persistent cloud cover had given way to beautiful clear skies. My Sunday morning along US98 through Apalachicola and Panama City was bathed in sunlight, so despite the cold, the drive was wonderful. At one point in the trip (I think it was just before dark on Saturday) I was driving west along US90 into Tallahassee. This particular stretch of road was lined with trees draped with Spanish moss, the wispy gray-green clumps trailing from the branches, filtering the setting sun ahead. Lovely. I wish I had stopped to take a picture.
I still associate Spanish moss with Florida mainly from my memories of a family road trip to Walt Disney World more than 35 years ago (back when there was just the Magic Kingdom). I know Spanish moss grows in areas farther north, but whenever I see it, I always think of Florida. If you look closely, you might see some dangling from the branches of the trees near the county courthouse in Thomasville, Georgia.
My secondary motivation for this southern journey was to visit the last remaining counties in Alabama and Florida. These become the 15th and 16th states I have completed. As I always like to do on these blog posts, here are the before and after maps showing the area I visited.
The next county trip will be in mid-February when I head to Texas. The goal will be to connect the big chuck of south Texas to the other part of the state I’ve visited (check out County Collecting 2017 - the Year in Review to see my year end map). That trip will include visits to the last three counties along the Mexican border. I wonder what strange or unusual sight I’ll find to post in my blog. Check back in late February and see.