Local Attractions

Bladon Springs Church at Bladon Springs, AL Bladon Springs Church at Bladon Springs, AL (1872, listed on the Alabama Register)

This church was completed in 1872. It was built by P. D. Flint who built many of the building in the area including the Bladon Springs and Cullom Springs Hotels. The Bladon Springs Church is a contributing property to the Bladon Springs Historic District that’s listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. This church is located at the community of Bladon Springs in southern Choctaw County (GPS coordinates 31.731899,-88.197625).

Source: Choctaw County Historical and Genealogical Society.
Bladon Springs State Park at Bladon Springs, ALBladon Springs State Park at Bladon Springs, AL

Bladon Springs State Park is a 367-acre Alabama State Park at Bladon Springs, AL that is centered around four mineral springs. Park facilities include campsites, shelters, tables, and grills.

This property, originally owned by John Bladon, was referred to as Bladon Springs because of mineral springs located on it. James Conner opened the property to the public as a spa in 1838 after the mineral springs became known for their “healing” properties. By 1845, the grounds contained many small cottages, with a capacity for 100 guests. In 1846 a grand Greek Revival style hotel was constructed as the center piece of the spa. The hotel had a capacity for 200 guests. It was one of the largest wooden hotels ever built in Alabama. The hotel featured such amenities as a large ballroom, a bowling alley, a billiard room, a hotel bar in the basement level, and even a skating rink. Surrounding the hotel was a latticed pavilion over the main spring, bath houses, and croquet grounds. The springs, along with the hotel and spa, earned Bladon Springs the nickname “Saratoga of the South”.

Bladon Springs Hotel at Bladon Springs, ALIn time a small town, also named Bladon Springs, developed around the hotel and spa. It featured many homes built as summer residences. The hotel continued to operate, though limited in scope, during the Civil War. By 1870 it was once again in full operation. After the turn of the century, when mineral springs began to diminish in popularity, the hotel and spa fell on hard times and eventually closed. The empty hotel was used as sleeping quarters for logging crews and others until 1934 when the state purchased the property. The state then converted the hotel into apartments for use by state employees, until the hotel burned down in 1938. All of the cottages were eventually demolished or moved. The pavilion over the main spring was the only structure remaining by 1960. Today the only reminders of the site’s history are the springs themselves.

This Alabama State Park is located at Bladon Springs, AL in southern Choctaw County. GPS coordinates of the park entrance are N31.734833,W88.198750.

The 1877 picture of the Baldon Springs Hotel that’s included is provided courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Broadhead Memorial Park at Needham, ALBroadhead Memorial Park at Needham, AL

This is a small park that is located at the community of Needham, AL in Choctaw County. It is proof that a park need not be large or elaborate to be a real pleasure. The park is built around the old Walter Wilson gristmill which was the center of life in Needham for decades during the early twentieth century for the people of Choctaw County. The park has a hard-surfaced and wheelchair accessible nature trail that winds through a mixed hardwood forest along the small creek that once powered the gristmill. The park also has an old dogtrot log cabin which has been carefully restored, complete with furnishings appropriate to the period. The gristmill and log cabin have interpretive displays that tell their stories.

This park is located along the creek on both side of the main road at downtown Needham, AL (GPS Coordinates N31.987278,W88.331944.)

Source: Alabama Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail, a publication of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel

Dogtrot Log Cabin at the Broadhead Memorial Park in Needham, ALDogtrot Log Cabin at the Broadhead Memorial Park in Needham, AL

The dogtrot cabin was a common style of rural home in the South during the 1800s. The dwelling would often begin as a single-room log cabin with the attic used as a sleeping loft. As the family grew, a second log cabin would be built and the two cabins would then be joined by a common roof and a wood floor between them. The covered open-air passage between the cabins became known as a “dogtrot”. It not only served to link the cabins, but it also allowed a breeze to flow through the house which helped with tolerating the hot, humid summers. Many dogtrot cabins also had a full-length porch across the front.

Shown is a dogtrot log cabin in the Broadhead Memorial Park that’s located at Needham, AL in Choctaw County. This cabin was built using two Choctaw County homes that were donated to the park. Dogtrot Log Cabin at the Broadhead Memorial Park in Needham, AL2The longleaf yellow pines that provide the framework are from the 1854 Clanaham-Gibson home that was located in the Tallawampa community in southeast Choctaw County. Other materials for the cabin are from the 1877 W. Felix and Winnie Wright home that was located in Needham.

The Broadhead Memorial Park is located along the creek on both side of the main road at downtown Needham (GPS coordinates: N31.987278,W88.331944.)

Wilson’s Grist Mill at the Broadhead Memorial Park in Needham, ALWilson’s Grist Mill at the Broadhead Memorial Park in Needham, AL

Wilson’s Grist Mill was the center of life in Needham for decades during the early 1900s for the people of Choctaw County. The Saturday trip to town to have corn ground into meal was more than just the task of obtaining food for the family for the next week. Walter Wilson’s mill was the social center of the town with news, opinions, and even the gossip of Needham and the surrounding area.

The Broadhead Memorial Park is located along the creek on both side of the main road at downtown Needham (GPS coordinates: N31.987278,W88.331944.)

Choctaw County Courthouse at Butler, ALChoctaw County Courthouse at Butler, AL (built 1906, listed on the Alabama Register)

Choctaw County was established in 1847.  The current courthouse in Butler is Choctaw County’s second courthouse – built 1906 and occupied in 1907. There were additions to the courthouse in 1956 and 1965.  It was placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage in 1997.  A Military Memorial Walkway was dedicated in 1997, as part of Choctaw’s 150th birthday observances.  There is a Confederate statue, located in front of the courthouse.  It was made in Italy and erected in 1936 by. UDC Ruffin Draqoons Chapter, but not dedicated until 1937.

The courthouse is located at downtown Butler (GPS coordinates:  32.089389,-88.221639).

Source:  Choctaw County Historical Society

Choctaw County Historical Museum at Gilbertown, ALChoctaw County Historical Museum at Gilbertown, AL

The Choctaw County Historical Museum is located beside the Town Park at downtown Gilbertown, AL.  The main building of the museum contains all types of displays that illustrate how life was in earlier times.  Behind the main museum is another building that contains the larger items including old farming equipment.  There is also an old country store that was relocated to the museum site and a small log cabin that was constructed with logs from Choctaw County’s first courthouse at Barrytown.  Next door to the museum is the Town Park which has an old caboose and oil rig.  Additional details are provided on the pictures that are included.

The Museum is open on Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM and on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge near Womack Hill, AL 1Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge near Womack Hill, AL (Choctaw County)

Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is a little off the beaten path but well worth the trip. Water defines this 4,218 – acre refuge, covering roughly one-half of the refuge in creeks, sloughs, lakes, and backwaters of the Tombigbee River, which borders the refuge for 6.5 miles. These waters, and the hardwood bottomlands and open fields around them, draw a wealth of wildlife species, from American alligators to Anhingas. Refuge managers provide habitat and protection for threatened and endangered species, like the Wood Stork and Bald Eagle, and promote wildlife diversity, wildlife-dependent recreation, habitat for wintering waterfowl, and Wood Duck production and banding. Managers have placed more than 400 artificial Wood Duck nesting boxes in the refuge’s wetlands to supplement natural cavities, and some 2500 Wood Ducks hatch in these boxes each year. Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge near Womack Hill, AL 2Though much of the refuge is accessible only by boat, roads traverse the north end, providing access to a variety of habitats. Visitors can hike, boat, view and photograph wildlife, fish, and hunt on the refuge. An interpretive kiosk provides information about the park’s natural history, and the cypress swamp overlook offers an excellent spot for wildlife viewing. The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is included in the Alabama’s Ten Best Bird-Watching Spots that’s in the Alabama Bird Watching Guide published by Bill Thompson, III & the staff of Bird Watcher’s Digest.

The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is located east of Womack Hill, AL in the southern part of Choctaw County. GPS coordinates of the entrance if the Choctaw NWR are N31.844833,W88.165778.

Source: Alabama Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail (a publication of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel).

Coffeeville Lake Service Park at Bladon Springs, AL 1Coffeeville Lake Service Park at Bladon Springs, AL

Service Park sits on the shores of 97-mile-long Coffeeville Lake, the third largest lake on the Black Warrior- Tombigbee reservoir system and the last reservoir on the Tombigbee River before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Service Park’s campground offers 32 sites with electrical and water hook-ups, showers, and clothes- washing facilities. If you’d prefer a more rustic camping experience, you’ll find primitive camping sites in the area, as well as seven day-use areas around the lake. You can fish from shore for catfish, white perch, bass, and bream, or launch your boat on the lake. Nearby Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge encompasses some 4,000 acres of Coffeeville Lake, creating a haven for wildlife, wildlife viewing, and hunting. Coffeeville Lake Service Park at Bladon Springs, AL 2A marshy slough behind the Service Park picnic area attracts shorebird species and offers a lovely vantage point from which to watch the river.

Directions: Service Park Road is on the north side of Hwy 84 approximately 2 1/2 miles west of the Coffeeville, AL river bridge.  GPS Coordinates of the park attendant’s house is N31.751528,W88.145722.

Source: Alabama Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail, a publication of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel
Ezell’s Fish Camp at Lavaca, AL1Ezell’s Fish Camp at Lavaca, AL

For many of its customers, Ezell’s Fish Camp is much more than a restaurant. It is a cultural institution, representing a way of life very much connected to the community’s river heritage and to family tradition. This well known landmark, on the Tombigbee River, is believed to have been built by a French fur trader, and the building served as a trading post. It was later acquired by Charles Agnew (C. A.) Ezell and remains in the Ezell family today. Originally a classic “dogtrot” log cabin, with two rooms joined by a central breezeway, additional rooms have been added, providing space for the restaurant that is known far and wide for its catfish. Before Crumpton Bridge was constructed, this was also the location of Lott’s Ferry, and you’ll still find an active boat ramp below the restaurant.

Ezell’s Fish Camp at Lavaca, ALThis restaurant is located on the west bank of the Tombigbee River just north of the Hwy 10 river bridge at Lavaca, AL (GPS Coordinates N32.135000,W88.041722).

Sources: 1) Choctaw County Historical and Genealogical Society; 2) Alabama Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail, a publication of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel

First Oil Well In Alabama at Gilbertown, ALFirst Oil Well In Alabama at Gilbertown, AL

On January 2, 1944, the State of Alabama granted Hunt Oil Company a permit to drill the A. R. Jackson Well No. 1 at Gilbertown, AL.  Hunt Oil Company was owned by the famous oil man, H. L. Hunt of Dallas, Texas.  The drilling commenced on January 10, 1944, and oil was struck approximately one month later at 2580 feet in fractured Selma chalk.  The discovery of this well led to the creation of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama in 1945, and to the development and growth of the petroleum industry in Alabama.

This oil well was about two miles southwest of downtown Gilbertown, AL on the Paragon Road.  The GPS coordinates of this well are N31.869194,W88.351278.  This location is shown on the map.  The only thing present at the site today is the concrete foundation of the oil well and a Historic Marker.  There is an old Hunt oil rig at the Town Park in downtown Gilbertown that is similar to the one that struck oil.

Source:  First Oil Well In Alabama Historic Marker

Ford House at Pushmataha, AL Ford House at Pushmataha, AL (built ca. 1850, listed on the Alabama Register.)

This two story house was built circa 1850 using hand-hewn 12-inch boards put together with pegs. The house was moved back about 30 feet from the highway in 1994 and remodeled by Marilyn Felts. During remodeling, modern conveniences were added to the house while still retaining its original charm. This house is a contributing property to the Pushmataha Historic District that was added to the Alabama Register of Heritage and Landmarks in 2008. The Ford House is also included in Alabama’s Tapestry of Historic Places published by the Alabama Historical Commission.

The Ford House is located beside Highway 10 in the community of Pushmataha in Choctaw County, AL (GPS coordinates 32.189183,-88.34791).

This is a private residence – drive by only.

Sources: 1) Choctaw County Historical Society; 2) Alabama’s Tapestry of Historic Places published by the Alabama Historical Commission.
Mt. Sterling Methodist Church at Mt. Sterling, ALMt. Sterling Methodist Church at Mt. Sterling, AL (ca. 1859)

The Mt. Sterling Methodist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built circa 1859 and was used for church services up until 1976, when it was donated to The Choctaw County Historical Society.  Extensive renovations were done by the Historical Society, including new wiring, plumbing, air-conditioning, and other improvements. A mid-19th century style addition was also built.  The building is now used for meetings and 19th century style ceremonies and reenactments.

This church is located approximately 4 miles east of Butler, AL in the community of Mt. Sterling (GPS coordinates 32.091611,-88.163611).

Sources: 1) Choctaw County Historical Society; 2) NRHP “Mount Sterling Methodist Church” Nomination Form.

Old Naheola Bridge at Pennington, ALOld Naheola Bridge at Pennington, AL

Until its closure to automobile traffic in 2000, the Naheola Bridge was one of only two bridges in the world that accommodated rail and auto traffic on the same traveling surface. Traffic lights were mounted at each end of the bridge to signal the auto traffic to stop or proceed. The lights were controlled by the drawbridge operator, who was stationed in the bridge house near the middle of the bridge. This was necessary because the bridge is only wide enough for one-way traffic, and motorists could not see from one end of it to the other because the half-mile long structure had a blind curve at one end. The lights were also necessary to warn motorists of the presence of a train or the possibility of the drawbridge being in a raised position to allow barge traffic underneath.

In 2001, the Alabama State Highway Department began construction on a new bridge immediately south of the Naheola Bridge. This bridge was completed in 2004 which allowed traffic to once again travel the length of Hwy 114 without detours. Now when motorists cross the Tombigbee River at Naheola, they will have the luxury of two-way traffic with no delays. There will certainly be more than just passing glances, though, down at the old Naheola Bridge in remembrance of it’s once unique claim to fame.

This old bridge is located beside the new concrete bridge across the Tombigbee River near Pennington, AL (GPS Coordinates N32.237667,W88.015389)

Source: Choctaw County Genealogical Society

Pushmataha Methodist Church at Pushmataha, ALPushmataha Methodist Church at Pushmataha, AL

The Pushmataha Methodist Church was established ca.1872 and was first called Sardis. The current church building was built ca. 1911. This church is included in the Pushmataha Historic District that was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in October 2008.

The Pushmataha Methodist Church is located in the community of Pushmataha in Choctaw County, AL (GPS coordinates N32.190341,W88.3534).

Seventh-Day Adventists Church at Gilbertown, ALSeventh-Day Adventists Church at Gilbertown, AL (c. 1923)

This building was built circa 1923 by Seventh-Day Adventists. They built a new church and sold this one to First United Pentecostals. The building is now privately owned.

This church building is located on Main Street near downtown Gilbertown (GPS coordinates 31.876651,-88.319109).

Source: Choctaw County Historical and Genealogical Society

Silas Community House at Silas, ALSilas Community House at Silas, AL

The Community House is located in the old Town District of Silas.  It was established in 2001.  The house is one of the few remaining early 20th Century residence in the town.  The front portion of the Community House, predating 1917, was an ice cream parlor.  The house is used for community events. It is also available for rent for special functions – weddings and receptions, family reunions, club meetings, anniversary parties, birthday parties, etc.

The Community House is located at the intersection of Pine Street and First Street in Silas (GPS coordinates 31.764452,-88.328882).

Source: SilasAL.com

Turner/Sessions/Kopf House at Bladon Springs, ALTurner/Sessions/Kopf House at Bladon Springs, AL (built c. 1859)

The Turner/Sessions/Kopf house was built c. 1859. It is included in the Bladon Springs Historic District that’s listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. This house is located beside Bladon Springs Road approximately 0.6 mile east of the intersection in downtown Bladon Springs (GPS coordinates N31.731425,W88.188195).

This is a private residence – drive by only.
Tuscahoma (Red Warrior) Historical Marker near Mt. Sterling, ALTuscahoma (Red Warrior) Historical Marker near Mt. Sterling, AL

This marker is located in Choctaw County beside Co. Rd. 27 approximately 4 miles SE of Mt. Sterling just before getting to the Tuscahoma Landing on the Tombigbee River (GPS coordinates 32.060166,-88.114815).


Following is the inscription of the marker:


Tuscahoma (Red Warrior)
Before 1782, a temporary Choctaw camp – Batcha Chukka (Ridge House) – was near here. Tuscahoma was the crossing point on the Tombigbee River for Choctaw Indians. It was near this site that Chief Pushmataha signed a trade treaty with the U. S. Government. By 1810, settlers were in the village of Mount Sterling, a few miles west of here. Tuscahoma Landing also was an important stopping point during the steamboat era.
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