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Nuts about Dothan

By

Thomas R. & Deborah A. Fletcher

 

 Spring Farm Day, Landmark Park, plowing with a mule team AL-27-19-b.jpg            Dothan , Alabama is a drive-by city—too often. Beckoned south, lured to the beaches of the Florida Panhandle, people drive by.  We’ve done it too—just another town on the way.  Next time, stop by for a visit.  It’ll be worth it.  You’ll find the Dothan area has much to offer.

            Snuggled in Alabama ’s southeast corner— Georgia to the east and the Florida panhandle south— Dothan lies at the heart of Alabama ’s Wiregrass Region.  The region is named for a tough, wiry grass that once covered the Alabama plains along the Chattahoochee River .  The round-bladed, bunch grass in the Aristida family served as a primary nutrition source for the vast herds of cattle initially brought by the Spanish.  Today the grass is fairly scarce, and most residents wouldn’t know it if they saw it. 

            Known as the “Peanut Capital of the World,” Dothan has many options for the traveling public: take a relaxing walk or have a picnic at Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, indulge in a bit of culture at the Wiregrass Museum of Art, or stop by Landmark Park for a look at the farming ways of long ago.  Visit the US Army Aviation Museum on Fort Rucker .  Skydiving is available at the Headland Airport for the truly adventurous—everything in a nutshell.

            Originally known as “Poplar Head,” for an area well, the city was established as Dothan in 1885, taking the name from the Bible, where the name means “wells.”  In Millennium Park there’s a statue of Joseph, with the inscription, “For I heard them say, let us go to Dothan Genesis 37:17.” 

In 1893 Dothan out bid other area locations to be the site of the first railroad to pass through the region.  The railroad ensured Dothan ’s growth and prosperity.  This small city of 60,000 today, serves as a hub for southwest Georgia and the Florida Panhandle—and a center for health care, business and retail services for the Wiregrass Region.

Cotton was once king—agriculturally speaking, until the boll weevil wrecked havoc upon the crop.  Farmers needed another viable crop and they turned to the peanut.  Today, Dothan is the center of the US peanut-producing region.  Nearly half the peanuts consumed in America are grown within a 100-mile radius of Dothan .  Each fall there is a two-week festival honoring the peanut harvest—the National Peanut Festival.  There’s even a gold peanut monument by the Dothan Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Landmark Park is a 100-acre part set aside to preserve the cultural heritage of the Wiregrass Region.  The park features several special events throughout the year.  Spring Farm Day is one such event.  Experience the living history of life on the farm a hundred years ago.  Live Bluegrass music at the park gazebo sets the scene for Spring Farm Day—a celebration of the farming heritage of the Wiregrass region. Spring on the farm means work—and plenty of it.  Costumed volunteers bring farm life of years gone by to life.  See the garden plowed by a pair of mules, watch sheep being sheared, take in the quilting or soap and basket making demonstrations.  The park is designated as “ Alabama ’s Official Museum of Agriculture.”  There are several historic structures, relocated to the park from various areas of the region.  There’s a one-room schoolhouse, a church, and a general store where visitors are greeted by volunteers.  There are nature trails for hiking and exploring.  Finally there’s the 8,000 square feet interpretive center and planetarium.Dothan Area Botanical Gardens AL-28-18

The Dothan Area Botanical Garden (DABG) is a partially wooded 50-acre site that makes for a relaxing escape for a quiet walk or a picnic.  The garden location, a former soybean farm on Headland Avenue , was purchased in 1996 so it’s new by botanical garden standards, just getting firmly rooted.  The gates opened to the public in 1997—no entrance fee. Currently there are eight completed gardens: Azalea, Butterfly, Camellia, Demonstration, Gregory, Heirloom, Herb and Rose, with other gardens planned.  The Southern Heirloom Garden was established to preserve seeds and plants from past generations for the future.  Most species were collected from old homes, gardens, and roadsides of the southeast.  The Rose Garden, DABG’s first established garden contained 450 rose bushes.  The Demonstration Garden has produced more than a ton of vegetables for the local food bank.  DABG—committed to the conservation of natural resources for future generations—provides the public with opportunities for education, research, and the enjoyment of beauty.

The US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker features a collection of more than 160 military aircraft, encompassing one of the world’s greatest collections of military helicopters.  Forty-five aircraft on public display illustrate the Army’s involvement in aviation from the days of the Wright brothers, including World War 1 combat aircraft through modern equipment such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and the AH-64 Apache currently seeing action in Iraq .  An extensive research library is part of the museum.

The Wiregrass Museum of Art was founded with the express intention of supporting local artists, while providing educational programs and increasing the area’s overall appreciation of the arts.  It is the only art museum in southeast Alabama .  Located in a former Power & Light utility building dating from 1913, the structure is on the list of National Historic Buildings.  The 16-feet high walls of the main gallery offer plenty of open, airy exhibition space.Alabama beauty strolls by the Salute to the Peanut Industry mural by artists Susan Tooke and Bruce Rickett AL-27-10

There’s art all around Dothan .  Dothan ’s “Festival of the Murals” is a series of murals painted on the walls of historic buildings depicting the history of the Wiregrass Region.  Since the running theme is peanuts, don’t miss the many “Peanuts around Town” displays.  Much like Chicago ’s cows and New Orleans ’ fish, these are sculptures, structured as a peanut but shaped into something more—like the “Elvis” peanut in front of the Days Inn on Ross Clark Circle.  There’s the “Officer I. B. Nuts” at the Dothan Police Department.  A peanut becomes a fire hydrant complete with Dalmatian outside the Fire Department.  The four-foot sculptures dot the lawns of organizations, businesses and homes of Dothan to promote “The Peanut Capital of the World.”  

 

IF YOU GO:

Dothan, Alabama CVB 

3311 Ross Clark Circle, NW

PO Box 8765

Dothan, AL 36304

Phone: 1-888-449-0212

E-mail: dothancvb@ala.net 

Web: www.dothanalcvb.com/

http://www.dothan.org/  

Dothan, Alabama“Peanut Capital of the World,” Peanuts around   Dothan D-04-1279 Dothan, “Peanut Capital of the World,” Peanuts around Dothan  
Plowing with a pair of mules, Spring Farm Day, Landmark Park AL-27-19 Plowing with a pair of mules, Spring Farm Day, Landmark Park

Landmark Park  

PO Box 6362 

Dothan, AL 36302

Phone 334-794-3452 

Fax 334-677-7229 

Web: http://www.landmarkpark.com/ 

Miss Headland, at the Headland Airport Al-30-04Miss Headland, at the Headland Airport

City of Headland, AL Chamber of Commerce  

105 Cleveland Street 

Headland, AL 36345

http://www.headlandal.com/ 

 

Dothan, Alabama“Peanut Capital of the World,” Peanuts around   Dothan  D-04-1273 Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel 

Phone: 1-800-ALABAMA

Southern Belles, Dothan, Alabama AL-33-07

Dothan Civic Center

Box 2128 

Dothan, AL 36302 

Phone 888-276-9286 

Fax 334-255-3054

Alabama beauty strolls by the Salute to the Peanut Industry mural by artists Susan Tooke and Bruce Rickett AL-27-10 Alabama beauty strolls by the Salute to the Peanut Industry mural by artists Susan Tooke and Bruce Rickett
Skydiving, Headland Airport AL-29-03  

 

Skydive Headland

230 Airport Road

Headland, Alabama 36343

Phone: 334-693-5867 

Aerial view of Headland, Alabama. peanut country AL-29-19Headland Municipal Airport 

230 Airport Dr. 

Headland, AL 36345

Dothan Area Botanical Garden 

5130 Headland Ave. 

Dothan, AL 36303 

Phone 334-793-3224 

Fax 334- 793-5275 

Dabg@ala.net

Couple strolling together through Dothan Area Botanic Garden AL-28-18 Couple strolling together through Dothan Area Botanic Garden

Text and Photos copyright Thomas R. Fletcher / Prose & Photos

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