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Archive for alabama

Rocket City

By Linda Tancs

Once coined the “Watercress Capital of the World,” Huntsville, Alabama, is now known as Rocket City. That’s because it’s the place where America’s space program was born—where the rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon. It’s where the power for today’s space shuttle was developed and where the modules for the International Space Station were designed and built. It’s also where America’s next great ship, the Space Launch System, is being designed. NASA’s Space Launch System will be the most powerful rocket ever built. When completed, SLS will enable astronauts to begin their journey to explore destinations far into the solar system. Since 1970 more than 16 million people have toured Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center. General admission to the center includes access to historic Shuttle Park, Rocket Park and all indoor exhibit areas such as the main museum atrium and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.

Bon Temps in Mobile

By Linda Tancs

Home to the first Mardi Gras in the U.S., Mobile, Alabama, has been letting the good times roll since 1703. That rich cultural history is on display at the Mobile Carnival Museum. Located on Government Street in a historic building, the facility features royal gowns, crowns and scepters amidst 14 gallery rooms, a pictorial hallway, theater and gathering space.

Sunset Capital of Alabama

By Linda Tancs

Alabama’s Dauphin Island is so proud of its sunsets that it fancies itself the sunset capital of the state. It’s also one of the “birdiest.” In fact, the island is one of the top four birding areas in the U.S., visited by around 400 species. No wonder, then, that the spring migration is bringing flocks of tourists and birders to the coastal area these days.

A Blast in Alabama

By Linda Tancs

A testament to America’s coming of industrial age, Alabama’s Sloss Furnaces is the only 20th century blast furnace in America being preserved and interpreted as a historic industrial site. Located in Birmingham, the facility contains two 400-ton blast furnaces and 40 other buildings although nothing remains of the original furnace complex. Nevertheless, the oldest building on the site dates from 1902 and houses the eight steam-driven “blowing-engines” used to provide air for combustion in the furnaces, vintage engines that drove (no pun intended) the Industrial Revolution. Sloss produced iron for nearly 90 years, rendering Birmingham a great industrial hub of the South that earned it the nickname The Magic City.

Courage Up Close

By Linda Tancs

A symbol of courage, the USS Alabama (nicknamed the Mighty A), saw 37 months of active duty during World War II, earning nine battle stars and becoming one of America’s most decorated battleships.   Now anchored at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, you can experience courage up close.  The park’s Wall of Honor inside the Medal of Honor Aircraft Pavilion honors the 9,583 Alabama citizens who have died in combat since World War I.   The pavilion honors those 29 Alabama citizens who have received the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor given by the United States of America.

Shrimp to Shore

By Linda Tancs

For 40 years now Gulf Shores, Alabama has been the place to be for the National Shrimp Festival.  Taking place from 13 to 16 October at the Gulf State Park Pavilion, the annual fest draws 300,000 visitors each year to sample the local fare.  But that’s not all.  There’s live music playing from two stages, over 200 artists, and a children’s activity village.   The festival is free; why not apply those unused funds to a little break in the Gulf Coast.  Stay and play at any of the local hotels, campgrounds, cottages or condos.  There is a shuttle that leaves for the festival hourly from the Winn Dixie grocery store parking lot at only a dollar each way.

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Preserving the Past in Alabama

By Linda Tancs

At Fort Rucker, Alabama, they preserve the past for the future.  That’s where you’ll find the Army Aviation Museum, exhibiting over 160 military aircraft, including one of the largest collections of military helicopters in the world.  Aviation students, researchers, and authors will love the library (available by appointment only), housing more than 1,600 technical and field manuals, more than 2,000 films, an aviation history reference section, and approximately 95,000 photographs.  Guided tours are available on request (call ahead to ensure that access to the installation is not restricted due to security requirements), and admission is free.

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