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  • quack quack bang
    started a topic Do You Really Know Alabama?

    Do You Really Know Alabama?

    This year, Alabama is celebrating it's 200th anniversary of statehood. In recognition of this honor, this thread will contain information about what makes Alabama, and its people, uniquely Alabama. Post your favorite, or least favorite, person/event/place along with your explanation of its significance. Share with us why you are proud to call this place your home.

    http://alabama200.org/about/why-a-bicentennial/

    *** From the above link***

    Formed as a territory on March 3, 1817, Alabama became the nation’s twenty-second state on December 14, 1819. ALABAMA 200 is a three-year celebration of the people, places, and events that form our rich history.




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    Yellow Fever in Alabama

    Yellow fever is a tropical and subtropical disease that had a significant impact on Alabama's history and early settlement. The exact origins of the disease are unclear, but historians generally believe that it evolved in Africa and spread via colonial trade to the Americas in the sixteenth century. Recorded by the earliest French settlers in Mobile in 1704, the last outbreak was reported in 1905. It earned many nicknames based on its symptoms, including Bronze John, Black Vomit, the Yellow Plume of Death, the Saffron Scourge, and Yellow Jack. The disease still claims lives in many parts of the world, but no deaths have been recorded in North America since 1905.

    Yellow fever is an arbovirus infection, meaning that it is caused by a type of virus transmitted by arthropods such as ticks and mosquitoes. Yellow fever is specifically carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, an insect that prefers to feed on people and thus favors urban environments. Yellow fever typically lasts about a week or less. Initial symptoms include severe overall aching and high fever, sometimes in the dangerous ranges of 102 degrees to 104 degrees. After a lull in these symptoms, severe nausea, dramatic jaundice (the source of the disease's most common name), and muscular pains can manifest. In extreme cases, victims also experienced hemorrhaging and then vomiting of semi-digested blood ("black vomit"). Severe cases can damage internal organs, with the liver, kidneys, and heart being most compromised. Death from renal failure, heart failure, or blood poisoning was common in past epidemics prior to modern medicine, but victims who experienced mild cases acquired immunities.

    The earliest reference to yellow fever in Alabama was a disease outbreak at the colonial French settlement of Fort Louis de la Louisiane in present-day Mobile in 1704. This epidemic was the only one recorded during the French colonial period in Alabama (1702-1763), possibly because yellow fever was often mistaken for other diseases. Mortality numbers for that outbreak are unknown, but its origin traces to a ship that was transporting French women to the colony and had stopped in Havana, Cuba.

    During the early nineteenth century, Alabama's rapid population growth and increased transoceanic trade resulted in a greater frequency of yellow fever outbreaks, particularly in the port city of Mobile. This influx of people had no acquired immunities to yellow fever, and the disease caused many deaths. During the epidemic of 1819, the year of Alabama's statehood, Mobile recorded approximately 430 deaths out of a population of about 1,000. The city established the Church Street Graveyard that year to inter its many Spanish, French, and American victims of yellow fever.

    In 1822, the disease appeared in Blakeley, located north of Mobile on the Tensaw River, and its population was decimated, never to recover.

    Yellow fever continued to occur in Alabama throughout the 1840s and 1850s as steamboat and railroad travel carried people and disease across the state. In 1852, the city of Selma, Dallas County, recorded 53 deaths from yellow fever. An epidemic the following year was the worst antebellum outbreak in the South, killing 7,849 people in New Orleans alone. Mobile's epidemic that year, which resulted in 1,191 deaths, originated with passengers on a ship from New Orleans.

    Alabamians continued to experience yellow fever throughout the 1860s and into the early 1870s. Outbreaks in Mobile and Montgomery were the most frequent during that time as these two cities were major transportation routes through which outsiders brought in the disease. In 1873, a severe epidemic affected Alabama from Huntsville, Madison County, in the north, south to Mobile Bay, with approximately 124 deaths across the state.

    In 1875, the Alabama Department of Public Health was organized, mostly by members of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, who recognized the need to combat epidemic diseases, such as yellow fever, more effectively. The state also created county health departments in each of the then 65 counties, making Alabama the first state to have health departments in every county.

    Mobile physician Josiah Clark Nott (1804-1873) lost four children to yellow fever in 1853 and wrote extensively on the disease. But, it was not until decades after his death that scientific study provided an explanation about the transmission of yellow fever. Epidemiologist Carlos Finlay first hypothesized that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes before the Royal Academy of Medical Sciences in Havana, Cuba, in 1881. In 1900, after years of defending his theory, Finlay and an international team of scientists and physicians proved the mosquito theory. Medical pioneers Walter Reed, Aristides Agramonte, James Carroll, and Jesse Lazear worked with Finlay in Cuba to solve the mystery of yellow fever's transmission.
    The last cases of yellow fever verified in Alabama occurred in 1905, a few years after the validation of the mosquito transmission theory. Cases were noted in Castleberry, Conecuh County, Montgomery, and at the Mobile quarantine station. No deaths were recorded.

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    Why Bernie, AOC, Karmala, and all the rest are wrong:
    Skyline Farms



    The Skyline Farms project, established by the federal government in Jackson County in 1934, was one of the more unique socioeconomic experiments in Alabama history. Founded on Cumberland Mountain, the cooperative farming experiment was intended to offer jobs and social welfare to unemployed Alabama farmers devastated by the Great Depression. Skyline Farms was one of 43 such projects attempted in various depressed parts of the United States, but it was one of the largest in terms of development, expenses, and national publicity.

    Pres. Franklin Roosevelt believed that American cities were housing an increasingly disproportionate segment of the population and wanted to see rural land put to better use. His administration responded to this vision by providing funding for community development programs in rural areas.

    During the mid-1930s, the federal government purchased approximately 13,000 acres of land in Jackson County in northeastern Alabama, where it hoped to create a cooperative, planned community. Like most New Dealprograms, Skyline Farms followed the Jim Crow laws of the South and was for whites only. A similar project named Gee's Bend Farms was established for African American farm families at the Gee's Bend community in Wilcox County. The communal center featured buildings that included a school, a commissary, a warehouse, and a manager's office.

    The remaining land was divided into 181 farms, varying in size from 40 to 60 acres. Families for the project were chosen from area relief rolls, primarily from Jackson County, and were provided with a house and farming equipment and were to repay the costs, which averaged close to $1,500 per unit, for these facilities over time through money made from selling crops, primarily cotton and potatoes. Records indicate that they were to have received animals as well, but it is unclear if this portion of the plan was ever implemented. Residents were members of the cooperative and together owned a store, a marketing association, a pre-paid health care program, and a pre-paid veterinary association, all of which were subsidized by the federal government.

    Farmers participated in the construction of their dwellings and other structures, with the assistance of the Construction Unit of the Resettlement Administration. In addition, employees of the Resettlement Administration's Special Skills Division, such as Hollywood director Nicholas Ray, encouraged residents to participate in traditional arts, crafts, square dances, and music.

    In the early 1940s, Skyline Farms fell on hard times as cotton crops failed because of the unsuitable land and climate in north Alabama. A switch to potatoes failed as well. The federal government constructed a hosiery mill in the community to boost the economy, but it too failed as a result of a war-time shortage of nylon. The communal factory at Skyline Farms and other project sites brought charges of socialism from some members of Congress as well. Internal factions developed among participants over the management of the project, and beginning in 1944 the federal government began to liquidate the project's assets, selling to private buyers. Of the original farm families, only two were able to buy their farm units.

    Today, all that remains at the site is the school building, which is now used as a local elementary school, and a few other buildings. The sandstone community school was partially designed by landscape architect William Kessler and is listed on the Alabama Register of Historic Places. Several of the houses, the commissary, and the project manager's office are now privately owned, as are the factory and a warehouse that still exist.

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    Gandy Dancer



    "Gandy dancers" was a nickname for railroadsection gangs in the days before modern mechanized track upkeep. The men were called dancers for their synchronized movements when repairing track under the direction of a lead workman known as the "caller" or "call man." The name "gandy" supposedly arose from a belief that their hand tools once came from the Gandy tool company in Chicago (though no researcher has ever turned up such a company that made railroad tools). The name may also have derived from "gander" because the flat-footed steps of the workmen when lining track resembled the way that geese walk. There is, however, no consensus on the origin of the name.

    Each group of railroad workers, known as section gangs, typically maintained 10 to 15 miles of track. The men refilled the ballast (gravel) between the railroad ties, replaced rotted crossties, and either turned or replaced worn rails, driving spikes to lock them to the crossties. Spike driving required no group coordination, but the heavy rails had to be carried by teams of men with large clamps called "rail dogs." A lead singer coordinated the effort with so-called "dogging" calls. A good half of a typical workday was spent on the constant chore of straightening out the track (known as lining), and it was from this activity that "gandy dancers" earned their name. When leveling the track, workmen jacked up the track at its low spots and pushed ballast under the raised ties with square-ended picks, often leaning shoulder-to-shoulder in pairs while the caller marked time with a four-beat "tamping" song.

    through the 1950s, the foreman of a section gang was invariably white and the members of the gang itself almost exclusively African American. The foreman typically positioned himself 50 yards or more from the section gang, squatted down, and examined the length of track for problems. He used visual signals to tell the caller where the track was out of alignment and when it was "lined" properly.

    Lining track was difficult, tedious work, and the timing or coordination of the pull was more important than the brute force put forth by any single man. It was the job of the caller to maintain this coordination. He simultaneously motivated and entertained the men and set the timing through work songs that derived distantly from sea chanteys and more recently from cotton-chopping songs, blues, and African-American church music. Typical songs featured a two-line, four-beat couplet to which members of the gang would tap their lining bars against the rails, as in this example:
    1 2 3 4 "O joint ahead and quarter back"
    1 2 3 4 "That's the way we line this track"
    When the liners were tapping in perfect time, he would call for a hearty pull on the third beat of a four-beat refrain:
    1 2 3 4 "Come on, move it! Huhn! (pause)"
    1 2 3 4 "Boys, can you move it! Uhmm! (pause)"
    and so on until the foreman signaled that the track was properly aligned. A good caller could call all day and never repeat the same phrase twice. Veteran section gangs lining track, especially with an audience, often embellished their work with a one-handed flourish and with one foot stepping out and back on beats four, one, and two, between the two-armed pulls on the lining bars on beat three.
    In a ceremony at the Smithsonian in 1996, John Henry Mealing (who had worked on the Western and then the Frisco lines) and Cornelius Wright (who had worked on U.S. Steel's 1,100 miles of track), two former callers of this kind of work song in central Alabama, received National Heritage Fellowship Awards as "Master Folk and Traditional Artists" for their demonstrations of this form of African-American folk art.

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    Hosted by Alabama Cup Races Association Whitewater slalom, downriver and boater cross race. Camping Friday and Saturday night. Race Saturday and Sunday. More info to come: https://www.facebook.com/events/2227251557518203/

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    Alabama whitewater paddling guide covering class I to V. Over 50 rivers, creeks, and streams. Canoe and kayak information including levels, put-in, take-outs, and maps.

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    Come raft and zip with us on the Chattahoochee River in Phenix City, Alabama, the longest urban whitewater rafting in the world!

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    Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT)



    The Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) is the longest recreational water trail in any single state in the United States. The ASRT begins at the Alabama/Georgia state line, where the Coosa River enters Alabama northeast of Cedar Bluff, Cherokee County, and ends 631 miles later at Fort Morgan at the Gulf of Mexico. The original trail included parts of seven rivers: the Coosa, Alabama, Mobile, Tensaw, Apalachee, Cahaba, and Blakeley rivers, as well as the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, and Weogufka and Hatchett Creeks. In late 2010, the Tennessee River and Terrapin Creek were adopted as part of the trail. The ASRT also crosses nine lakes: Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell, Jordan, R.E. "Bob" Woodruff, Claiborne, and the William Dannelly Reservoir.

    conceived in early 2006 by a small group of boating enthusiasts who enlisted the participation of the Alabama Power Company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which owns and manages locks and dams on the rivers), the Alabama Tourism Department, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and numerous organizations and individuals in developing the trail. The idea came to fruition with the official designation of the trail on June 6, 2008. In that same month, the ASRT was designated as a National Recreational Trail by then U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne during a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Montgomery's Riverwalk.

    Most of the ASRT is on wide, slow moving rivers, and for that reason it is widely used by power boaters. For whitewater enthusiasts, the best part of the trail is Moccasin Gap near the town of Wetumpka, Elmore County, on the Coosa River. This section of the trail is a fairly interesting run that includes some Class III rapids; therefore, it is not recommended for powerboaters.

    Because much of the ASRT follows commercial navigable waterways, long-distance trips on the trail may require portaging around or going through large locks and dams. For this reason, and also because of the lack of campsites, marinas, and other facilities on some stretches of the trail, many boaters opt for day trips on limited sections. Some parts of the trail have amenities available to long-distance boaters such as campgrounds, stores, canoe and kayak rentals, and outfitters, but boaters should consult maps and websites before planning a trip.

    The association also publishes trail guides with detailed information regarding campgrounds, marinas, put-in and take-out locations, and points of interest along the way.

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    Appalachiosaurus



    Appalachiosaurus (/ˌæpəˌleɪtʃioʊˈsɔːrəs/ ap-ə-LAY-chee-o-SAWR-əs; "Appalachian lizard") is a genus of tyrannosauroid theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous Period of eastern North America. Like almost all theropods, it was a bipedal predator. Only a juvenile skeleton has been found, representing an animal over 7 meters (23 ft) long and weighing over 600 kilograms (1300 lb), which indicates an adult would have been even larger. It is the most completely known theropod from the eastern part of North America.

    Fossils of Appalachiosaurus were found in central Alabama, from the Demopolis Chalk Formation. This formation dates to the middle of the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous, or around 77 million years ago.[1]

    The type specimen was found by Auburn University geologist David King in eastern North America in July 1982.[3] This dinosaur was named after the region of the eastern United States known as Appalachia, which also gave its name to the ancient island continent on which Appalachiosaurus lived. Both are named after the Appalachian Mountains. The generic name also includes the Greek word sauros ("lizard"), the most common suffix used in dinosaur names. There is one known species, A. montgomeriensis, which is named after Montgomery County in the U.S. state of Alabama. Both genus and species were named in 2005 by paleontologists Thomas Carr, Thomas Williamson, and David Schwimmer.

    Appalachiosaurus is so far known from only partial remains, including parts of the skull and mandible (lower jaw), as well as several vertebrae, parts of the pelvis, and most of both hindlimbs. These remains are housed at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama. There are several open sutures between bones of the skull, indicating that the animal was not an adult. Several elements are crushed, but the specimen is still informative and shows many unique characteristics, or apomorphies. Several of these apomorphies have been identified in the skull, and the claws of the feet show an unusual protrusion on the end closest to the body. A row of six low crests lines the top of the snout, similar to the Asian Alioramus, although most tyrannosaur species exhibit ornamentation to varying degrees on top of the snout. Appalachiosaurusis significantly different and more derived than another early tyrannosaur from eastern North America, Dryptosaurus.

    The forelimbs of Appalachiosaurus are poorly known. Large tyrannosaurids are characterized by proportionally small forelimbs and hands with two functional digits each; except some reports of a humerus ascribed to Appalachiosaurus, no forelimb material are known.[4] Early reconstructions gave it long arms with three fingers, but they are now thought to have been much shorter, with only two fingers. Museum mounts have been corrected accordingly.[5] Appalachiosaurus had a bite force of around 32,500 newtons, or 7,193 pounds per square inch. [6]

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    Basilosaurus



    Basilosaurus ("king lizard") is a genus of prehistoric cetacean that existed during the Late Eocene, 40 to 33.9 million years ago (mya). The first fossil of B. cetoides was discovered in the United States and was initially believed to be some sort of reptile, hence the suffix -saurus, but it was later found to be a marine mammal. Fossils of B. isishave been found in Egypt and Jordan.

    Basilosaurus is a state fossil of Alabama and Mississippi.

    No Precambrian fossils are known from Alabama. As such, the state's fossil record does not start until the Paleozoic. By the Late Cambrian the state was covered in a warm shallow sea. A rich fauna inhabited this sea.

    Life became abundant once more in the local waters during the Mississippian epoch of the Carboniferous period.[1] The name Carboniferous means "coal-bearing". This period has been nicknamed the "age of amphibians" or the "age of coal swamps". During the Mississippian, carbonate rocks were being deposited in the state that would preserve many contemporary life forms as fossils.[3] The Mississippian marine life of Alabama included blastoids, brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, and crinoids.[4]

    The process of mining Carboniferous-aged coal to help power the industrial revolution has been responsible for uncovering tracks left at that time by early tetrapods in Alabama. Such discoveries frequently occur when the excavation of coal mines removes the rock underlying the trackway, leaving it exposed on the tunnel's ceiling.[17] In 1842, one of the state's biggest early fossil discoveries occurred, the remains of the primitive whale Basilosaurus.[6] The fossils were discovered on a plantation owned by Judge John Creagh of Clarke County, Alabama. His slaves thought the bones had belonged to one of the fallen angels. Local doctors identified the fossils as belonging to an ancient marine reptile. However, some of the fossils were shipped to Sir Richard Owen in England. Owen realized the bones actually belonged to a whale and tried to rename the creature Zeuglodon.[18] Despite the attempted rename, "Zeuglodon" is still formally known by the name first given to it, Basilosaurus.[14] Herman Melville later discussed this discovery in his famous 1851 novel, Moby Dick.[18]

    In July 1961, a fossil discovery occurred that author Marian Murray called "one of the most exciting"[18] in the state's history. A Washington County farmer located not far from Millry uncovered a large fossil vertebra while ploughing. The vertebra was later found to belong to Basilosaurus, the primitive Tertiary whale. Further excavation found that almost all of the animal's skeleton was preserved there. Among the recovered remains were 118 vertebrae, 8 ribs, and a six-foot skull with teeth. The bones were taken to Tuscaloosa for the University of Alabama to be made into a museum exhibit.[18] More recently, in 1984 Basilosaurus cetoides was designated the Alabama state fossil. In 2005, the new tyrannosauroid Appalachiosaurus was named based on local Cretaceous fossils.[20]





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    Doug Phillips




    Doug Phillips is best known by friends and fans as “Dr. Doug,” creator and host of the Alabama Public Television series, Discovering Alabama.

    Dr. Doug earned his Ph.D. in Educational Research from The University of Alabama. Today he holds the title of Coordinator for Environmental Information and Education: The Alabama Museum of Natural History, as well as Executive Producer and Host of Discovering Alabama.

    Dr. Doug continues to teach, holding in-service workshops for K-12 teachers throughout the year and across the state. At the college level, Dr. Doug is Creator and Principal Instructor of Discovering Alabama Ecology, an environmental science course at The University of Alabama.

    Dr. Doug is author of the award–winning books, Discovering Alabama Wetlandsand Discovering Alabama Forests.

    The original, Emmy winning documentary public television series about the rich natural history and heritage of Alabama.

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    Kudzu



    Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a semi-woody, creeping or climbing perennial vine with large, lobed compound leaves with three leaflets. It is a member of the legume family, which includes peas, beans, and a number of other popular food and garden plants. There are 18 or so species of kudzu, all of which are native to Asia. Kudzu spreads rapidly; its vines, which sprout from large tubers that can weigh up to 300 pounds, grow up to a foot per day and may spread more than 50 feet during the growing season. The vines put down roots as they grow and begin to develop new tubers and thus can rapidly establish colonies. Kudzu produces clusters of purple flowers in summer and early fall and seed pods in late fall. known popularly as the "vine that ate the South," has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the American Southeast. Introduced in the late nineteenth century from Asia, it now covers more than a quarter million acres in Alabama and more than seven million acres in other southeastern states, swallowing up abandoned buildings and farms.

    Kudzu first came to the attention of American gardeners at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, at which nations from around the globe created gardens based on their native flora for the Exposition's Plant Exhibition. The Japanese representatives used kudzu in their display, and visitors were attracted to its impressive foliage and attractive flowers. By the late nineteenth century, kudzu had become popular as an ornamental vine in southern gardens and was widely available through mail-order catalogues.

    Kudzu began its real takeover of the southern landscape in the 1930s. In 1933, the U.S. Congress established the Soil Erosion Service (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service) in response to the increasing threat of topsoil loss during the Dust Bowl era. Throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s, the Soil Erosion Service distributed more than 85 million kudzu seedlings to southern landowners as a way to control erosion, with the government offering monetary incentives to farmers who agreed to plant kudzu. The federal Civilian Conservation Corps planted additional kudzu seedlings in the South as well. By 1946, three million acres of southern farmland had been planted in kudzu. Kudzu's popularity at that time is reflected in the many kudzu clubs and festivals that arose in the South. The Kudzu Club of America, founded in 1943 by Georgia native Channing Cope, boasted 20,000 members at its height.

    As kudzu began to spread unchecked it began to lose its appeal. In 1953, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) removed kudzu from its list of acceptable cover crops, and by 1962, the Soil Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Erosion Service) was planting it only in remote areas. In 1970, the USDA demoted kudzu to the status of a common weed, and in 1997, Congress voted to add kudzu to the Federal Noxious Weed rolls. The huge effort to plant kudzu across the South has now been replaced with a huge effort to eradicate it. With more than seven million acres estimated to be infested with the vine and given its rapid growth rate, this is a daunting task. In Alabama, one of the most heavily infested states, more than 250,000 acres are blanketed with kudzu. Auburn University researcher James H. Miller has been among those researching ways to eradicate the plant pest but so far has found only one type of herbicide that kills it. Repeated applications of herbicide are needed to kill the massive tuber and not just the green growth.

    the Alabama Invasive Plant Council, which aims to develop and implement management and eradication programs for kudzu and other invasive plant species, such as multiflora roses and Chinese privet.
    Despite its negative effects on the Alabama landscape, kudzu has earned a grudging place in Alabama life and culture. Kudzu's name graces a Web site, Kudzu.com, that rates local businesses, and the University of Alabama Libraries has named its federated search engine Kudzu. Additionally, Huntsville boasts a film company named Kudzu Productions. Kudzu itself has provided materials for regional crafters, who use its strong but supple vines to create baskets and other woven works. And the blossoms are used by Alabamians and other southerners to make jellies and jams. Award-winning University of Alabama filmmaker Max Shores has even created a documentary devoted to kudzu, The Amazing Story of Kudzu, which he produced for Alabama Public Television in 1996. Given its persistence in the Alabama landscape, Alabamians are likely to continue finding ways to make good use of the vine that ate the South.

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    Cotton



    Cotton, perhaps more than anything else, was the driving economic force in the creation of Alabama. The search for land to grow cotton attracted the first settlers into the state's river valleys. Cotton also created the two dominant labor systems, slavery in the Old South and sharecropping in the New South. The cotton-based economy also produced cycles of boom and bust resulting from the Civil War, the boll weevil infestation, government crop controls (such as acreage allotments and yield quotas), competition from foreign growers, and other factors. In the early days of cotton production, it was used primarily for fabric, but today cotton has a wide range of uses. Cotton lint is still used for textiles, and the fuzz left on the cotton seed after ginning (referred to as linter) is used in a variety of products: explosives, upholstery, writing paper, U.S. currency, and film and videotape. The oil extracted from cottonseed is used in cooking, cosmetics, soap, and many other items. The seed husk and the material that remains after oil extraction is used for fertilizer and livestock feed. Although cotton is no longer "king" in Alabama agriculture, it is still an important part of the state's economy. Of the 17 states that produce cotton, Alabama ranks about seventh.

    Indigenous to warm climates throughout the world, cotton was well known to ancient agricultural societies. The Greek historian Herodotus mentioned "tree-wool" grown in India, and other ancient writers recorded its cultivation in Egypt, Asia Minor, China, Greece, Africa, Italy and several Mediterranean islands. In Mexico, the Aztecs grew cotton, Hernando de Soto noted in his journal the use of a "delicate white cloth" by Indians of the South. It is uncertain when European settlers first cultivated cotton in Alabama, but one early historian believed it was in production by 1772. One of the first cotton planters in Alabama was Joseph Collins, a surveyor for the Spanish government at Mobile. In 1795, Collins imported 10 enslaved Africans from Kentucky and established a cotton plantation near Mobile. Collins may have set the pattern for future development of the Alabama plantation system, but the great northern river valleys of Alabama soon overshadowed Mobile's agricultural successes.

    Upland cotton is the preferred species for Alabama. Gossypium hirsutum, known as upland or short-staple cotton. Like long-staple cotton, upland cotton grows as a shrub or small tree with a single trunk and has smooth, gray bark that is tough and stringy. It requires a rather long growing season of 180 to 200 days from seed to full maturity. In Alabama, it is often planted in March or April, after the danger of frost has passed. It thrives during the summer when temperatures reach 90 degrees or above during the day and remain at about 70 degrees at night. Upland cotton grows on almost any type of soil, but it prefers rich sandy loam that drains well. Upland cotton plants have large, dark green leaves, and in summer, the appearance of white, cream, or pale yellow flowers signals to farmers that it is time for them to cease cultivation until harvest. When the blooms fall, small square pods, called bolls, begin to emerge and grow until they reach the size of a plum.

    The bolls ripen in the hot sun until late August (if the crop was planted in April), then burst open into chambered areas of fluffy white cotton. Cotton bolls usually have three to five staples or sections that produce white or brown fibers containing embedded seeds. seeds were a major drawback to upland cotton because they are almost impossible to remove by hand from the staple. An average enslaved worker could extract seeds from only about 50 pounds a day. For this reason, cotton was generally shunned as a viable cash crop until the Whitney cotton gin became available in 1793. This remarkably simple invention stimulated cotton production by mechanically removing seeds, creating a lust for cotton land that quickly led to settlement and statehood for Alabama.

    Just before the Civil War, cotton made up about 60 percent of all U.S. exports, prompting southerners to believe that "King Cotton" would shield them from political domination by the northern states and serve as a viable economic force in the creation of the Confederate States of America. Neither belief proved true.

    The Civil War destruction of property and losses due to the emancipation of slaves reached into millions of dollars. Emancipation also meant that Alabama farmers had to produce cotton with a new system of labor. The most viable cash crop was still cotton, and the most viable labor source was the emancipated slave population. the system that eventually evolved was based on sharecropping and tenancy. Although these two terms are sometimes viewed as synonymous, they are not. Tenant farmers typically rent land for cash, whereas sharecroppers are laborers who keep a portion of the crop they produce. Sharecropping, which came to be the most dominant labor system throughout Alabama, was designed for freedpeople who had nothing to bring into a rental agreement except their ability to work.

    By 1866, cotton had again blanketed Alabama's fields, with 977,000 acres harvested, yielding about 120 pounds per acre for a total of 264,000 bales. In 1867, Alabamians planted almost 1.25 million acres of cotton averaging 152 pounds per acre. As of 1877, Alabama had more than 2 million acres of cotton in cultivation and harvested 673,000 bales that year. Cotton was making a comeback, but the increase in production was tied to the increase in acres planted. Yield per acre remained low, however, averaging 149.8 pounds per acre from 1866 through 1876. The next two decades saw per-acre yields drop even lower. Some of the reasons for the drop in productivity were limited access to fertilizer, soil erosion, adverse weather conditions, and a loss of farming skills among younger generations

    During World War I and the years shortly afterward, the cotton market improved. To keep cotton out of enemy hands, England purchased a large portion of American cotton, producing artificially inflated prices and a boom for American cotton farmers. England, a major cotton importer, sought out other markets, and foreign countries began competing with the United States, producing 40 percent of the world's cotton, leaving the United States with about a 60 percent share of the market

    Several federal programs attempted to aid southern cotton farmers in the 1920s, but little was accomplished. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted his New Deal programs in response to the Great Depression. The president signed into law the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, a bill supported by Alabama senator John Hollis Bankhead II, which paid cotton farmers to plow under one-third of their crops to reduce production and raise cotton prices. The act helped landowners but hurt many sharecroppers, who made up most of the farming population, because their labor was no longer needed. Later, Bankhead and his brother William, a congressman, co-sponsored the Cotton Control Act of 1934, which limited the number of bales a farmer could produce. In 1936, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1933 unconstitutional in United States v. Butler. Congress and the president responded by enacting the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, partly drafted by Bankhead, which mandated price supports for cotton and other crops. This act also created the cotton allotment program, which required farmers to plant a specified number of acres of cotton and established a quota system to balance supply and demand.

    At the start of the twenty-first century, it is difficult to determine the future of cotton production in Alabama. Factors such as changing weather patterns, the high cost of machinery, changing agricultural policies, world trade issues, rising input costs, and alternative choices in fabrics will all affect the future of cotton production in Alabama. There is the distinct possibility that the crop that gave rise to Alabama and that has both cost and benefited the state so much in so many ways might become only a minor crop. After decades of acreage reduction, cotton appeared to be making a comeback as one of the mainstays of Alabama agriculture. In 2017, farmers planted 435,000 acres of cotton and harvested 343,000 acres, with 931 pounds per acre. But since the year 2000, cotton acreage has gone from about half of the planted acres of the big four row crops in Alabama (corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans) to about a quarter of the acreage. For the time being, however, cotton remains a very important part of the state's agricultural economy.

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    Olan Mills




    Olan Mills Inc., was established in Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa County, by Olan and Mary Stephenson Mills in 1932. Until 2011, when company president Olan Mills II sold it to its major competitor, Lifetouch Inc. of Minnesota, it was among America's most significant twentieth-century portrait photography businesses.

    Olan Mills Sr. (1904-1978) was born into a large Nebraska farm family. He entered the University of Nebraska in the 1920s to study medical science but soon left and moved to Florida to sell real estate. When the Great Depressionended the financial boom there, he hitchhiked to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to seek a new business opportunity. On the way, he met photographers who travelled door-to-door selling enlarged copies of photographic portraits belonging to their customers. He joined them and began to learn the photography business.

    In 1930, Mills married Mary Stephenson (1905-1974), a descendant of early residents of Selma, Dallas County. Mary studied art at the University of Alabama and later worked in Selma as a finisher for a portrait photographer. Around 1930, the newlyweds organized a photograph-copying business serving Selma and the surrounding area. The couple bought a car on credit and roamed the area looking for work. A board-and-batten shed near Selma's riverfront served as their first processing and finishing facility.

    The operation foundered financially, and the Millses lost their car. Undaunted, the couple sought another photography venture. Hearing that Clements Studio in Tuscaloosa had gone bankrupt, they acquired it and moved from Selma, with their son Olan Mills II, born in 1931. Olan Mills II recalls that they paid for the move with $10.00 from his piggy bank.

    The Millses continued to make reproduction photographs, but they soon switched to portraiture. They solicited business door-to-door and were awarded a contract to take portrait photographs of students for the 1933 University of Alabama yearbook, which provided cash flow in the business's first year and allowed them to expand their business. In March 1933, Olan Mills Studio, co-founded by Olan and Mary Mills, formally opened in downtown Tuscaloosa. About this time, Mary Mills began the company's first outreach efforts in Greensboro, Hale County, 30 miles from Tuscaloosa. There, she scheduled prepaid sittings and arranged for temporary lodging so that her husband could photograph sitters there. Olan Mills would travel to Greensboro, take the photographs, and then return to Tuscaloosa to process the film and print the images. Finished photographs were returned to customers by U.S. mail. Until 1935, the company offered only two products: 8 x 10-inch black-and-white prints on paper and smaller porcelain prints, which were printed on white translucent glass that resembled porcelain china.
    By 1935, Mary Mills, who was experienced in art and in hand-finishing photographs, had created a distinctive, easily recognizable portrait style for Olan Mills Studio.

    This new style, an 8x10 duotone portrait lightly touched up with oils, replaced the old 8x10 black and white prints. Duotone printing produced tonally rich images that needed only a quick touch of handwork to create a suggestion of color. Mary Mills's new strategy resulted in quicker production because less handwork was required than in older hand-coloring methods.
    The distinctive Olan Mills portraits featured a head-and-shoulders black-and-white vignette—in which the background is masked to focus on the sitter's head and shoulders—enlivened by touches of handcoloring and background airbrushing that made each print unique. Each print bore the distinctive Olan Mills signature, serving to reinforce the company's brand and suggesting that each portrait was a work of art.

    The company grew rapidly. When Olan Mills Studios held its first convention of plant, office, and field personnel on July 4, 1938, it had 200 employees, with 75 in Tuscaloosa and 125 in the field. By 1939, the company had more than doubled in size, with 500 employees and a fleet of six airplanes and 100 cars, which had logged more than two million miles in the previous business year. That year, the company began doing business outside Alabama, expanding its field operations to other southern states, the Midwest and New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. In addition, the company had opened permanent studios in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Terre Haute, Indiana.

    The company's 650 employees, working three shifts around the clock, turned out 12,000 finished portraits each day. Workers processed negatives, printed them, and finished the completed prints, including the handcoloring and airbrush work, and then returned them to customers via the U.S. mail. In addition, they ran a business office, with the usual support services for a large business. In 1940, the Tuscaloosa processing plant was predicted to gross more than $2 million. An additional plant constructed that year in Springfield, Ohio, served the expanding Midwest market.

    As World War II loomed on the horizon, Olan Mills understood that the company would experience setbacks. He realized that the company's fleet of cars and airplanes would be grounded by gasoline rationing and planned for the company's sales representatives and photographers to travel by rail for the war's duration. Anticipating staff and material shortages, Mills reorganized and shrank his business. He closed operations in the Midwest and New England (almost two-thirds of the company's markets) and concentrated the company's efforts in the Southeast. In 1941, not long before war was declared, Mills closed the Tuscaloosa processing plant and relocated the company's offices and main processing plant to Chattanooga, Tennessee, a centrally located railroad hub.

    In November 2011, when Olan Mills II sold the family-owned company, it had hundreds of studios across the nation and more than 20 in Alabama, mostly in Kmart and Belk stores, and a large and very active Church Directory Division, which since the 1970s produced church yearbooks that include portrait photographs of individuals and families. The purchaser, Minnesota-based Lifetouch, Inc., the world's largest employee-owned photography business, is the nation's leading producer of school portraits, having acquired Olan Mills's school division in 1999, and now the nation's largest portrait photography business.

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    National Peanut Festival




    The National Peanut Festival, held each fall in Dothan, Houston County, celebrates the harvest season and honors the region's peanut industry. The celebration recognizes the important impact the peanut has had in the Southeast. Known as the Peanut Capital of the World, the Dothan area produces more than 65 percent of all peanuts produced in the United States, making it the ideal location for the National Peanut Festival. The first peanut festival was held on November 10, 1938. The three-day event featured special guest George Washington Carver, agricultural pioneer and head of Tuskegee Institute's experiment station who was known worldwide for the more than 300 uses he found for peanuts. The festival also included a pageant, a parade, a historical play, and a grand ball.

    In 1940, the American Legion Chester R. Vickery Post No. 12 sponsored the festival, and in 1941, the organization brought in cadets from the Advanced Flying School at Dothan's Napier Field for an abbreviated version of the festival. The festival has been celebrated annually except for 1945 and 1946 because of World War II and was revived by the Jaycees in 1947. By 1953, the National Peanut Festival had grown so large that organizers added a carnival to help finance the event. In the mid-1950s, the festival formed its own association under the leadership of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. In the 1970s, the association became independent of the chamber. Today, the National Peanut Festival association has three employees and has a 35-member board of directors that consists of community, business, and industry leaders.

    The National Peanut Festival is the largest peanut festival in the nation. Now a 10-day event, welcoming more than 163,000 visitors from throughout the world, the festival relies on a volunteer force of more than 500 individuals. Visitors enjoy carnival rides, livestock shows, agricultural displays, live music, arts & crafts, pageants, food, and plenty of peanuts. The festival is held each fall, with the date varying between the end of October and the beginning of November.

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