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Heflin To Fruithurst To Muscadine To The Etowah Mounds

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

One day we set off to visit the Etowah Indian Mounds in Georgia. In Heflin, we passed this dairy bar with all the great signs:


So of course we had to share an ice cream cone. We didn't notice while we were there, but the Tasty Dip is for sale - $200k. If you look really closely at the sign, you can see that they have actually *increased* the asking price for the business!

Also in Heflin was the Buster Miles car dealership, and they had these fantastic old Chevrolet and Oldsmobile signs:


Next was Fruithurst, which is a story that starts in Tallapoosa, Georgia. Tallapoosa was promoted by a Connecticut salesman who moved to the area in the late 1800s as a "Yankee City Under the Southern Sun". Ah, it sounds really messed up, actually, because the Spring 2009 Alabama Heritage Magazine has a feature on Fruithurst in which the author stated that the idea was to populate Tallapoosa with immigrant whites (Germans, Scandinavians) to 'minimize dependence on black labor'. The natives of this area didn't care for that one bit, and to make things on even worse footing, former Union general Benjamin Butler (Butler the Beast, whose likeness graced Southern chamber pots) was recruited as a board member for the town company.

Anyway, the company went bust and years later one of the original promoters came back and decided he was going into the wine making business. He convinced a priest in Pennsylvania to persuade 200 of his Hungarian coal miner parishoners (who also happened to be winemakers) to come to Tallapoosa and grow grapes. I know, this is a weird story.
Well, they were serious about wine making and even hired experts from France to come over and make sure everything was being done as it should be. Things were going well and the promoter convinced another man from New York to start the Alabama Fruit Growing and Winery Association in Fruithurst. The town was just taking off. They even built the "Fruithurst Inn" with 80 rooms and a banquet hall. The article in Alabama Heritage reads in part:

The inn offered wild goose a la fermier, roast sirloin of beer, roast leg of lamb, and Columbia River salmon served with Fruithurst claret.
This site has a picture of the inn along with a notice that the town is made up "wholly of northern people".

Two years later, in 1898, the company went bankrupt. Everything went downhill. In 1912 there was a typhoid epidemic and of course in 1915 Alabama implemented prohibition. In the meantime the inn was moved to a different city and burned down in 1935.

Now there's not much left of Fruithurst at all. It's 1.02 square miles. 284 residents. But there is supposed to be a new winery, called Laminack's Fruithurst Muscadine Winery which as of December 22, 2008 has an alcohol license. Alright...now we've just got to find them.
There's lots more about the history of Fruithurst here.

So! Next we went to Muscadine, Alabama where there is a small-small covered bridge:

We got to the Etowah Indian Mounds about five minutes before they closed. There's a little diorama in the museum of the area:


There are six mounds at Etowah - Mississippian Culture mounds, built between 1000 and 1550:

Wish we could have gotten closer, but the employee was very stringent about not letting anyone go out into the park even for five minutes, although the park didn't officially close for almost another 30 minutes. Oh well! We'll just come back next year when the weather is pretty and can make it a big deal for the boys to enjoy.

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