Home Is Where We Park It: Rainbow Plantation, Summerdale Alabama
Date: May 13, 2019
Local History – Foley Alabama
When you wake up to a morning like this how can you not believe that the day is going to be super. We had a beautiful clear blue sky and no humidity. Picture perfect.
We were off to Mobile to visit the Battleship Alabama. We were but that is not the way it went. Barbara had a bad night and really wasn’t up to leaving at the crack of dawn so a change of plains were called for.
We went with plan B and decided to visit some local attractions in the area. Off we went eager to see what we would discover. What we discovered was Foley, Alabama.
Wanting to learn more about this small but vibrant town our first stop was at the welcome center. How about those neat globes hanging from the trees. They appear to be crafted from some type of wire.
At the visitor center we discovered that Foley was named for its founder, John B. Foley of
Chicago. In 1901 he learned of the opportunities in south Alabama from a man on a train while on his way to the funeral of President William McKinley. A year later he came to Alabama and purchased 50,000 acres of land. A manufacturer of Foley’s Pine Tar and Honey, a patent medicine designed as a cough remedy, Foley soon turned land developer. He formed the Magnolia land company , laying out lots, which he sold for fifty dollars an acre. People began buying lots very quickly. Most were eager to take advantage of the rich farmland in the area.
The issue now became, how to get everyone to Foley?
The answer, a railroad. So we moved over to the historic Foley Train Depot which is now a museum. Wave HI to Barbara! The original station burned in 1908 and was replaced the following year by the station that is now the Foley Depot Museum
We learned that the Bay Minette & Fort Morgan railroad line, a branch of the Louisville & Nashville (L & N) Railroad, was built for travel to Foley in 1905. Mr. Foley himself bought the ties for the line.
These were the four stops on the original line.
Here are a few railroad cars sitting on a section of the original railroad line. There were at one time three parallel lines. The other two tracks were on the far side of this line.
Imagine that, all the names that were once used for the good old caboose.
Here’s a look inside the caboose. Rather spartan I would say. I believe I’ll keep our current rig.
This is the inside of the museum.
While here we learned a bit more about Foley and that it was once famous for its potatoes. Also, because of the fertile land farmers were able to harvest two crops from the same land in one year. In addition farmers we learned unloaded their product into sheds located along the railroad tracks stretching for blocks in either direction from the station.
The potatoes were fed through this machine known as a grader which dumped them into burlap sacks at its one end.
The burlap sacks were imprinted with the owners name or logo on the bag. Next. they were sewn shut by hand. Finally, they were then loaded into box cars for shipment north.
Foley soon became the main distribution point for the southern end of this country. Boxcars carried its product to far away markets. At 40 feet long and 7 feet wide each car would carry 40 tons of freight.
The end would come in 1971 when the L & N railroad decided to discontinue service to Foley. By then trucks and private autos had also pretty much replaced a need for a railroad. Most of the potato farms had also given way to housing developments. Today, there is only one working potato farm left in Foley.
To make matters worse in 1979, Hurricane Frederic wiped most of this area from the map. In 2004 and 2005, the area suffered once again with Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. Slowly, the community began to rebuild, but then came the BP Oil Spill of 2010. However, the resulting financial settlement of the spill was the real beginning of the area’a comeback. Today, Foley and the other towns of the Alabama Gulf Coast continue to grow and offer some of the most beautiful landscapes in the south.
Time now for lunch at a very special place in town. Yup, she is waiting for me to finish taking pictures. This is Stacey Drugs which was established in 1927. It is a working pharmacy and also an old time soda fountain.
Let’s go inside.
Come take a tour with me. The soda counter. Note the play on words
Behind the ice cream counter. Would I ever like to find gas at that price when I fill up Graybeard!
Old fashioned table and chairs.
Can you tell we are in a Naval air area?
Two rather unique planes.
Interesting signs to say the least!
Can you guess what cold drink is the drink of choice?
I’ve never seen a cooler like this before except on American Pickers.
They even had a working jukebox.
Two more interesting signs.
What about lunch? BLT for both of us and oh they were delicious! Finished off with a chocolate milk shake. I rolled out the door.
Lunch over we headed for home. If you ask me our plan B for the day was a real winner. The day was perfect in so many ways. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, history is all around us you just have to look for it.
That was our day on The Road of Retirement. We didn’t go far but we learned a lot and had a great time exploring the area around our home. Tomorrow, well who knows where we’ll go. Maybe we’ll make good on today’s original plan. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know.
Thanks for coming along with us. Have a good night and we’ll catch up with you tomorrow.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before
See you on down the road