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Alabamians have lots of options for day trips this fall: museums, exhibits, historic sites, arts festivals and morecomment (0)

July 12, 2007

Alabama offers a variety of options for day trips this fall. History buffs can learn about an old Alabama coal mine in Aldrich or travel to Birmingham to see artifacts from a volcanic eruption in A.D. 79. You can enjoy an art festival in Northport or see unique bridges in Blount County.

Aldrich Coal Mine Museum
Equipped with a Kodak Brownie camera and a bicycle, Henry Emfinger documented everyday life during the 1940s in Aldrich, a community south of Birmingham where coal was mined from 1839 until 1942.
Those photos were the beginning of the Aldrich Coal Mine Museum, which consists of the Montevallo Coal Mining Company Store and Farrington Hall.

Along with the photos, there are a company store register, cash register and post office boxes that include Emfinger’s own box. Tools include picks, shovels and carbide lamps.

“Schoolchildren especially like touring the simulated slope coal mine,” said Emfinger, a member of First Baptist Church, Aldrich, in Montevallo in Shelby Baptist Association.
Farrington Hall is currently under restoration but is open for tours. It was built by mine owner William Farrington Aldrich in 1908 and features works by Giuseppe Moretti, who created the Vulcan statue in Birmingham. Be sure to notice the grand 16-by-4 Swiss mountain landscape mural.

Art historian Miriam Fowler of the Birmingham Museum of Art confirmed that the murals and decorations in the building are Moretti’s work. “We are almost certain that the staircases are also his work,” Emfinger said.
The museum’s hours are Thursday­–Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1–4 p.m.; and any time by appointment. Groups are welcome. For more information, call 205-665-2886.

Tales from an Eruption
The Birmingham Museum of Art will exhibit the largest collection of artifacts from the ancient Italian city of Pompeii that has ever left Italy. The exhibit, which will open Oct. 14 and close Jan. 27 of next year will feature 500 works of art and artifacts that offer a rare glimpse into life in the ancient world.

Pompeii and the nearby Italian towns of Herculaneum, Oplontis and Terzigno were destroyed in A.D. 79 by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed more than 3,000 people.

Included in the exhibit will be 12 plaster-and-resin body casts, marble statues, frescoes, jewelry, coins, armor and other artifacts from site excavations.

“Art and architecture, archaeology and geology, city planning and history, food and medicine — it all comes together in this exhibit to tell the stories of their lives,” said museum Director Gail Trechsel. “Visitors will be stunned by the beauty.” The orientation film dramatizes what happened in Pompeii at the time of the eruption.
For more information, call 205-254-2566 or visit www.pompeiibirmingham.com.

The Covered Bridge Festival
The 24th annual Covered Bridge Festival will take place Oct. 27–28 in Oneonta. Visitors can enjoy arts, crafts, entertainment and children’s activities. A 5K run and a car and motorcycle show will be part of the festivities Oct. 27.

This is a perfect time to take a scenic drive to the area’s historic covered bridges. “The three remaining covered bridges (in north-central Alabama) that were built in the 1930s are a major appeal for visitors during the festival,” said Charles Carr, president of the Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce.

The Horton Mill Bridge, located five miles north of Oneonta, is 220 feet long and stands more than 70 feet above the Black Warrior River. “It is said to be the highest covered bridge over water in the United States,” Carr said. He noted that the Easley Bridge is located in Rosa, a town one and a half miles from U.S. Highway 231. Built in 1927, it is the oldest covered bridge in Blount County.

The Swann Covered Bridge is the longest in the state at 324 feet and is located one mile west of Cleveland just off state Highway 79. “You can easily tour all three bridges in an hour or less, and the foliage is usually beautiful,” he said.

For more information, call 205-274-2153 or e-mail cvbridge@
Kentuck Festival
of the Arts

The nationally recognized Kentuck Festival of the Arts will take place in Kentuck Park in Northport Oct. 20–21.
Sara Anne Gibson, executive director of the Kentuck Museum Association, said the festival is recognized for its quality and diversity. It celebrates a variety of artistic styles ranging from traditional crafts to folk and contemporary arts.

The festival will also feature continual musical performances, including gospel groups.
Prior exhibits have included a wooden rendition of Noah’s Ark and angels made from cornhusks.
A favorite for children is an activity area maintained by the West Alabama Quilters Guild where quilting techniques are taught.

For more information, call 205-758-1257 or visit www.kentuck.org.
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