Tag Archives: Birmingham

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 13

8 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – 7/24/2021

After a good night’s sleep at Terry and Mary’s house, Terry insisted on taking me to breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, there in Lester.  We talked about airplanes and my trip over breakfast, after which, we said our goodbyes.  Heading south 35 miles on SR-99/US-31, I passed thru Mt. Razell and Athens, where I visited the Old Decatur Depot located 

in Decatur, AL.  This small museum is situated in the restored 1905 Union Railway Passenger Depot and displays antique artifacts and memorabilia which tell the story of the rich railroad history of early Decatur and the surrounding Morgan County area.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I continued south 30 miles on US-31 to visit the Cullman Railroad Depot located in Cullman, AL.  This is another small railroad depot built in 1913 to replace the original 1870s depot there in Cullman.  The Depot was used until 1968 when passenger service was discontinued, and the building was renovated for the museum.  The museum displays railroad artifacts from the 1930s thru the 1960s.

Photo Credit:Bill Lites

I picked up I-65 out of Cullman and proceeded south 50 miles to visit the Southern Museum of Flight located in Birmingham, AL.  This large inside museum has 25+ beautifully restored aircraft displayed in two galleries dating from the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer replica to the 1972 Rutan Variviggen.  The outside aircraft display of 20+ aircraft range from the 1948 Lockheed T-33 trainer to the 1968 Lockheed A-12 Blackbird.  I hate to see these wonderful examples of our country’s aviation history exposed to the elements like that.  Oh well, at least they are available for people to see, while they last.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

I had several places to visit there in Birmingham, but I didn’t want to run out of time and miss the Barber Motorsports Museum, so I headed there next.  I had been to this museum once before on another road trip, but they rotate their exhibits from time to time and I knew their displays would be new.  This museum is housed in a modern 5-story building that shows off some 900 vintage motorcycles dating from 1903, and around 200, mostly Lotus, race cars.  Everything in this museum has been beautifully restored to running condition, and the tour guide I talked to said every one of the items could be running within an hour or so.   This museum was the highlight of this road trip!

After that great experience, I headed downtown to visit the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.  This site was closed, but their website informs me that the site serves as an interpretive museum for the steel industry and commemorates the pig-iron blast furnace plant that operated here in Birmingham from 1882 to 1971.  

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

It was just a few miles to where I stopped to check out the Golden Flake Factory.  This factory produces UTZ Potatoe Chips and several other snack foods.  I was hoping to get a tour of their facility, but they were closed.

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Next, I headed toward Five Points South to visit the Vulcan Park & Museum where I wanted to get a photo of the 56-foot-tall statue of the Roman god Vulcan that overlooks the city.  I learned that it was designed in 1903 by Giuseppi Moretti, and was cast in 29 parts at Bethlehem Steel, for Birmingham’s entry at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis Missouri.  I must admit it is very impressive!

Photo Credit: Bill Lites

Now I headed off to look for the motel there in Birmingham.  Greta (My Garmin) found the motel without any problems.  I got checked in and recorded the day’s activities. Then I warmed up my leftover St. Louis Spareribs dinner, from last night, and enjoyed that wonderful meal again.  WOW!  Was that ever good.  Amazingly, I still had enough left over for another meal.  Nothing like enjoying a meal three times, if you can.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

%d bloggers like this: