Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some new Ghost Stories for Halloween 2013!

The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge
Marianna, Florida
One of the most popular pages at is our collection of stories about the Ghosts & Monsters of the South.

For Halloween 2013, we have added some new stories that you might enjoy.  From a headless horse in Southwest Georgia to a ghost ship crewed by pirates in the Everglades, I think you will enjoy these journeys into the folklore of the South!

New stories for 2013:

Other favorites:
Don't forget you can access all of these stories and many others anytime at

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Alamo hero's home in Alabama

William B. Travis home in Alabama
The historic home of William Barret Travis still stands in the unincorporated community of Perdue Hill, Alabama.  The future commander of the Alamo lived here in 1828-1830.

The house was built in around 1820 in the once thriving river port of Claiborne, about 1 1/2 miles west of its current location. In 1828, William B. Travis and his new bride, Rosanna Cato Travis, moved into the charming little cottage.  Their son, Charles Travis, was born there and the future hero of the Texas Revolution practiced law, ran a newspaper and served as an adjutant in the Alabama State Militia while he lived in the home.

Travis was only 19 years old when he and Rosanna were married, but by then had been educated at academies in Sparta and Claiborne and entered the practice of law in the office of James Dellet. That he was popular among his neighbors is evidenced by his election to a post in the state militia (forerunner of today's National Guard).  In those days, militia officers were elected.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
After only two years of marriage and when his young son was only one year old, however, Travis suddenly left Claiborne.  The cause of his sudden departure is debated to this day.  Some say he was so severely in debt that he was unable to meet his obligations.  Others say his decision to lead was the result of marital strife with Rosanna.  The cause also could have been a case of the "Texas Fever." Men from all over the United States then were flocking to Texas hoping to make fortunes for themselves.

Regardless of why he left Alabama in early 1831, Travis became the heroic commander of the Alamo who inspired the world with his determined promise of "Victory or Death!"  He, of course, died at the Alamo alongside James "Jim" Bowie, David Crockett and other heroes on March 6, 1836.

To learn more about Travis and his Alabama home, please visit

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway is OPEN

Cold Mountain, NC, from the Blue Ridge Parkway
UPDATE:  All areas along the parkway have reopened to visitors.

The famed Blue Ridge Parkway is OPEN for those who would like to take the scenic drive to see the fall leaf change.  All facilities along the parkway, however, are closed due to the government shutdown.

According to the National Park Service, all visitor centers, historic sites, hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms along the Parkway are CLOSED. There are numerous towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway, however, to make up for the loss of some of these facilities.

Tunnel along the Parkway
October is normally a time of tremendous use of the Blue Ridge Parkway as drivers take the winding road for spectacular views of the fall leaf change in North Carolina and Virginia. According to the park service, around 70,000 visitors per day normally visit the parkway in October.

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls are Closed to Visitors
The closure of so many facilities is likely to reduce that total considerably and have a negative impact on towns, cities and communities all along its route. In addition to the 195 park service employees furloughed along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 200 employees of private businesses that contract for services also have been laid off.

Security officers, however, remain on duty to keep people from trying to visit any of the historic sites or other facilities along the road.

The National Park Service website for the Blue Ridge Parkway also is shut down, but you can read more about the beautiful road at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Leaf Watch 2013 - Georgia's Top 15 Parks for Fall Color

Amicalola Falls State Park
With virtually all of America's national parks and national forest recreation areas still closed due to the Federal shutdown, many traditional places for enjoying the fall leaf change in the South are unavailable this year.

In Georgia, fortunately, there are a wide array of state parks and historic sites where visitors are still welcome on their public lands and can enjoy the beautiful colors of the fall.  All Georgia State Parks remain open and are unaffected by the issues in Washington, D.C.

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites have announced the top 15 places to see this year's fall color:

Top 15 Georgia State Parks for Fall Color

Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall.  The falls can be enjoyed from both easy and difficult trails.  A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views.  There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top.  For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.  Amicalola Falls gets very busy on pretty October weekends.  Pumpkin farms and apple orchards are nearby.

At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park.  Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike.  For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail.  If driving Hwy. 441 north to the park, you can also stop by Tallulah Gorge State Park and quirky Goats on the Roof.

One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging hiking trails.  A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls.  (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.)  The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon.  New yurts are located off this trail.

Georgia’s newest state park opened this summer on Lake Lanier, protecting a beautiful hardwood forest and many miles of shoreline.  If you have a boat, this would be a great park to enjoy fall color from the water.  A 1.5-mile paved (and quite hilly) trail is open to bikes and foot traffic.  Another 2-mile trail is open to hikers only.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park
Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta.  The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail.  For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a lifesize bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and great views of the forested valley.  Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s pretty, green lake.  For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail.  Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore, and horseback rides are available as well.  Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks that are worth stopping for.

Kayak tours of this park’s lake let you enjoy autumn color from a different perspective.  Sign up for a ranger-led paddle or rent a canoe to explore on your own.  Mountain bikers can explore 10 miles of trails ranging from beginner to experienced.  This park is easily reached from I-20 exit 105.

This park near Rome is a good choice for families with young children.  An easy walk circles a fishing lake, and kids enjoy feeding fish from the boardwalk.  Older children will like the Marble Mine Trail which leads to a small waterfall with a pretty blue-green tint.  Serious hikers can explore the nearby 330-mile Pinhoti Trail.

Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake.  Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower.  Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.

Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta you’ll find a variety of trails with nice fall color.  The easy, flat 4-mile Iron Hill Loop is open to bikes and foot traffic, offering great views of the lake and forest.  Another good choice for lake views is the 5.5-mile Homestead Trail.  Families with young children will like the paved walking path behind the park office.  Be sure to explore the log cabin and blacksmith shed.

Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color.  Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls.  A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees.  This park is near many wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

Just west of Atlanta you’ll find 9 miles of hiking trails, a beautiful creek and small lake.  For an easy walk, take the popular 1-mile Red Trail which follows the creek to the ruins of an old mill.  For more of a workout, continue past the mill to the Blue Trail, where you’ll climb steep bluffs for outstanding creek views.  Sign up for a guided hike to learn more about this park’s Civil War history.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails.  Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom.  During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.”  Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.

Avoid Oktoberfest crowds in Helen by hiking a pretty 3-mile trail which leads from the park into town.  You can enjoy lunch and window shopping before hiking back to the trailhead.  Mountain bikers can zip past fall color on the park’s challenging 7.5-mile bike loop.  If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls.  (To avoid having to hike back, leave a second car at the falls.)

VOGEL STATE PARK – Blairsville
The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake.  For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall.  The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.

To learn more about the leaf change in Georgia, be sure to visit

To check conditions in Alabama and Arkansas, please visit

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaf Watch 2013 locations for Alabama & Arkansas

Fall is coming to life in the Ozarks!

The shutdown of America's national parks is partially jeopardizing one of the favorite seasons in the mountains of the South - the Fall Leaf Watch.

Pea Ridge National Military Park, Buffalo National River, Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve and all other national parks in the south, as well as national forest recreation areas, etc., are all closed.  These closures are having a major impact on the fall tourist season in the South as the federal government has blocked American cities from enjoying hundreds of thousands of acres of their public lands to enjoy Leaf Watch 2013.

Thankfully, state and local parks, state forests, etc., remain open.  Here is a list of some places in Alabama and Arkansas where you can still enjoy this year's Leaf Change.  All of these parks are open and ready to welcome you and your family!

A mountainside begins to turn from green to gold and red!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ALL Alabama State Parks remain open.

Cheaha State Park
I've been receiving quite a few questions about the status of Alabama State Parks as we approach the Fall leaf change.

ALL Alabama State Parks are open and ready for visitors!  This includes Cheaha State Park and DeSoto State Park, both of which adjoin Federal lands.  All state park roads, trails and amenities (lodges, cabins, restaurants, etc.) are open.

Federal lands in Alabama, however, have been closed due to the Government Shutdown.  Areas that are closed include:

  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
  • Little River Canyon National Preserve
  • Natchez Trace National Parkway
  • Russell Cave National Monument
  • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
  • Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
Little River Falls
In addition, all offices, recreation areas and trails in the Talladega and Bankhead National Monument are closed due to the federal shutdown. Even the National Park Service website is shut down.

ALL Alabama state historic sites are open as usual. These include Fort Morgan, Fort Toulouse/Jackson, etc.

There is no plan to close state operated parks and historic sites and no definite reopening date for national park and forest areas in Alabama.

Since you can't visit national park areas, feel free to look at photos and read about them (as well as Alabama state parks and historic sites) at