Thursday, October 8, 2009

McFarland Park Campground and Florence, AL

As I'm writing, I'm so distracted by the beauty of the Tennessee River just outside our door. Although there are 60 campsites, the layout of the campground is extremely open. For those of you interested in a real value, 50 amp service, water, sewer, picnic table and grill - all for $15/night (we're seniors)! A 7 day fishing permit for FL/TN residents is $16.

From our site we see the Wilson Dam, the vertical rocks across the river to beautiful Muscle Shoals, picnic pavilions down the road with huge fireplaces, and miles upon miles of trails surrounding the marina, golf course, soccer and softball fields, a floating restaurant, and a beautifully manicured driving range (and that's me in the tee pee). Upon arrival, a national bass tournament was taking place, so it seemed crowded. When the tournament ended, we began meeting some of the "real" people. At the end of October they'll be holding a national catfish tournament - imagine a 108 lb. catfish that won last year!

The Wilson Dam, began in 1918, and named after President Woodrow Wilson, was the highest single lock in the world when construction began, and is still one of the largest lift locks ever built. It was originally built to harness waters for electricity to power WWI explosives plants. This dam stands as the only neoclassical structure in the TVA system. Because of the dam, the otherwise dangerous Shoals are now commercially navigable. As we noted when we were on the Mississippi River in W. Memphis, the REAL show are all the barges navigating the river.

Florence was formed in 1818 to develop a thriving river town, and an Italian surveyor laid out the town, naming it after his favorite city in Italy - Florence. THE SHOALS is an area including Florence, Sheffield, Russellville, Muscle Shoals, and Tuscumbia. Some of the men of vision who bought land in Florence in its early days were people like James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and Supreme Court Justice John McKinley.

While there were no major battles fought here, few Southern towns suffered more than Florence during the Civil War. Florence changed hands over 40 times. We visited LaGrange College (8 miles south of Muscle Shoals), once known as "West Point of the South". LaGrange was the state's first chartered college and was burned by Union troops.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House was built in 1939 for $12,000 as an affordable middle class home. This home, 1 of 26 Usonion houses in the U.S., is the only home designed by Wright open to the public in the southeastern United States. The house is constructed of cypress, brick and glass and has been meticulously restored.

The University of North Alabama was established in 1830, and is located in the heart of Downtown Florence. The campus is beautiful, and was designed by the country's most renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead (designed Central Park, the Mall area of D.C., AND Bok Tower). UNA boasts the only live Lion mascots in the U.S. living on campus. If you'd like to see their live cam, click on this link (and wait to see the 24/7 on site mascots:
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