Friday, May 24, 2013

Gone to the Dogs and a Cave

Well, we got the motorhome out of hock today and settled our bill with Tiffin Service Center. It actually was less than what I expected for all the work they performed on the unit this week. They had the unit for over 12 hours and had up to 4 technicans working on it at the same time. Great service and we got out of there in 10 days. Since it is the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to stay put until Tuesday since we had a planned stop along the way to Charlotte and they aren't open this weekend.

We took a tour of the Tiffin Factory today, but I will include it in the posting for Saturday.

The people at the campground are very friendly and we have met a number of couples.  Pat & Steve along with two women campers that we just met today joined us in the afternoon's escapade.

The more interesting events today other than the tour were two trips into the countryside. The first was to the Coon Dog Cemetery. That's right, a Coon Dog cemetery where only coon dogs can be buried. At first I thought it was a joke, but it is real. Here is a good writeup on the cemetery.

In a small, grassy meadow, deep in the rich, thick wilderness of Freedom Hills, Key Underwood sadly buried his faithful coondog, Troop. They had hunted together for more than 15 years. They had been close friends.

The burial spot was a popular hunting camp where coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coon hounds. Those comparisons usually began and ended with Troop...he was the best around.

Underwood knew there was no place in the world Troop loved more than that camp. It was only fitting, he decided, that Troop spend eternity there. On that dreary Labor Day of 1937, Underwood said good-bye to his legendary coonhound. He wrapped Troop in a cotton pick sack, buried him three feet down, and marked the grave with a rock from a nearby old chimney. On the rock, with a hammer and a screwdriver he had chiseled out Troop's name and the date. A special marker was erected in his memory.

Troop, who was half redbone coonhound and half birdsong, was known through out the region as the best. He was "cold nosed," meaning he could follow cold coon tracks until they grew fresh, and he never left the trail until he had treed the coon.

Out of one hunter's devotion to his faithfull coonhound was born the "Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard," which has became a popular tourist attraction and is the only cemetery of its kind in the world.

Other hunters started doing the same when their favorite coon dogs died. Today more than 185 coon dogs from all across the United States are buried in this spot in Northwest Alabama.

"When I buried Troop, I had no intention of establishing a coon dog cemetery," says Underwood. "I merely wanted to do something special for a special coon dog."

When columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson interviewed Underwood in 1985, he told her that a woman from California wrote him wanting to know why he didn't allow other kinds of dogs to be buried at the coon dog cemetery.

"You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs," he responded.

Some of the burial ground's headstones are crafted of wood, some of sheet metal. Others are not unlike the stones found in a "normal" cemetery.

But, of course, the names of the deceased are different and so are the epitaphs.

For example, listed among the dead are Patches, Preacher, Smoky, Bean Blossom Bomma and Night Ranger. And etched along with these names are tributes such as, "A joy to hunt with" and "He wasn't the best, but he was the best I ever had."

Hunter's Famous Amos - a hound that was named Ralston Purina's Dog of the Year in 1984, is buried here as well as several World Champion coon dogs.

To qualify for burial in this unique cemetery, where more than 185 coon dogs have been laid to rest, it has been said that three requirements must be met:
  • The owner must claim their pet is an authentic coon dog.
  • A witness must declare the deceased is a coon dog.
  • A member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must be allowed to view the    coonhound and declare it as such. “

Nearby is the Rattlesnake Cave Saloon and it's quite the place, also. They have camping there and tonight it was full of horse trailers and campers. There must have been 50-70 horses in corrals and the campground was full. We didn't come for the campground and caught the Saloon Taxi down the hill to the saloon.

The drive down the hill was very steep and everyone slid forward in their deluxe seats in the back of the pickup. We all had to provide proof of our age and have our hand stamped to prove we were of drinking age. The youngest person in our group was at least 65, so it was sort of funny to be carded. 

The saloon is in a cave and is quite interesting. They are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and don't start serving beer until 5pm. We arrived shortly after 5 and I was quite pleased to see they had Yuengling beer on tap. It was last September that I last saw it on tap. It was great. We had a nice meal and sat around chatting and listening to the music after dinner. After a while the other 4 were ready to leave, but Gerry and I stayed about an hour longer and listened to the music and watched the dancers. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves very much and we only left since it was getting too chilly to sit in the cave.

It's hard to see, but there was a small waterfall coming out of the cave in the area behind the pickup truck bed.

We returned to the motorhome and relaxed and watched a little tv before posting the blog tonight. If you are ever in this area, then take the detour to visit these two places.

That was our day, how was yours?


  1. Wow what a great couple of places!! Looks like a ton of fun. I love places like that. Have a good weekend and we will see you next week.


  2. Two unique places in one day. I would love both of those.