“We are not only a beautiful part of the state of Alabama ... but also we have a very rich history of the Cherokee Indians.”
— Collins Kirby, Fort Payne, Ala.
County seat: Fort Payne
Other major towns: Ider, Henagar, Mentone, Valley Head, Crossville, Collinsville, Geraldine, Rainsville
Population: 68,515 (95.6 percent white, 2 percent black, 0.8 percent American Indian, 0.3 percent Asian)
Median household income: $31,717
Time zone: Central
Geographic features: Mountainous and picturesque in spots, DeKalb County includes parts of Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain as well as Little River Canyon, the second-deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River. Much of the county’s 778 square miles is used as timberland with flatter portions used for agriculture. Bordered by Georgia to the east, DeKalb County is about 100 miles from Birmingham, 112 miles from Atlanta, 60 miles from Chattanooga and 70 miles from Huntsville, Ala.
Points of interest: Alabama (band) Fan Club headquarters, Collinsville Trade Day, the Fort Payne Depot Museum
Outdoor recreation: Little River Canyon National Preserve, DeSoto State Park, Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort, Bucks Pocket State Park, High Falls Park, DeKalb County Fishing Lake, Sequoyah Caverns
Annual events: Collinsville Trade Day, winter skiing at Cloudmont Resort, Krazy Kudzu Follies, Geraldine Quilt Show, Ellis Homestead Day at Sequoyah Caverns, Wildflower Saturday at DeSoto State Park, Antique Alley Yard Sale, Mentone Rhododendron Festival, Sand Mountain Potato Festival, World’s Longest Yard Sale
Top employers: Children’s Place distribution, Ferguson’s distribution
Notable residents: Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook of the band Alabama; NASCAR pioneers Bob Flock, Fonty Flock, Tim Flock and Ethel Mobley; former director of the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Forrest S. McCartney.
Looking back: Fort Payne was founded by New Englanders in the 1880s using New England-style architecture. The founders hoped their city would tap into steel and coal reserves in Lookout Mountain and follow Birmingham’s path to regional prominence. But the ore was never found in significant quantities, and many of the mining companies went bankrupt. Fort Payne later became known as the “Sock Capital of the World” because of textile manufacturing, and, despite many mills closing or moving overseas, about 2,000 people still work in the sock plants.
Looking ahead: Annual Boom Days is the third Saturday of September and includes live music in Fort Payne. The live music acts include country, rock ‘n’ roll and gospel.
Tourism contact: DeKalb County Tourist Association: 888-805-4740; www.tourdekalb.com. Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association: 800-648-5381; www.northalabama.org.
“Jackson County is a great place to live because we have balanced the best of our wants with the best of our needs. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
— Ron Bailey, Scottsboro, Ala.
County seat: Scottsboro
Population: 53,134 (91.9 percent white, 3.7 percent black, 1.9 percent, American Indian, 1.8 percent Hispanic, 0.3 percent Asian)
Other major towns: Bridgeport, Stevenson, Paint Rock, Hollywood
Median household income: $33,733
Time zone: Central
Geographic features: Known as “the Wilder Edge of Alabama,” Jackson County is 1,079 square miles and borders Georgia to the east and Tennessee to the north. The county consists mainly of mountains and lakes including Sand Mountain and part of Alabama’s biggest lake, Guntersville Lake on the Tennessee River.
Points of interest: Stevenson Railroad Depot Museum, Unclaimed Baggage Center, Scottsboro-Jackson Heritage Center, Bridgeport Depot
Outdoor recreation: Russell Cave National Monument, Buck’s Pocket State Park, Lake Guntersville, Skyline Wildlife Management Area, Walls of Jericho canyon
Annual events: First Monday Trade Days, Siege of Bridgeport Re-enactment, Native American Festival, Scottsboro Fly-In, Catfish Festival, Stevenson Depot Days, Summer Latino Festival, Alabama Ballet Summer Residency, Rescue Squad Rodeo, Sand Mountain Gospel Music Festival, Frantic Frog Triathlon, Old-Timers Festival, Trail of Tears Commemoration and Motorcycle Ride, Bridgeport Jubilee, SCCA Crow Mountain Hill Climb
Top employers: Maples Industries, Beaulieu of America, Lozier Corp.
Notable residents: U.S. Rep. Bob Jones; songwriter Curly Putman (“Green, Green Grass of Home”)
Looking back: The county was founded in 1819 and named after Andrew Jackson. Bridgeport had main rail lines and the Tennessee River, making it an important point in the transportation of goods and troops during the Civil War. In early summer of 1863, Federal troops laid siege to the town and the Confederate troops garrisoned inside, eventually forcing the Confederates out of Alabama and setting up the Battle of Chattanooga.
Looking ahead: The Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns is a yearlong theme throughout the state and several areas in Jackson County are hosting events. Bridgeport: Siege at Bridgeport Re-enactment, March 26-28; Dutton: Community Christmas Parade, Dec. 11; Langston: Homecoming Week, April 25; Scottsboro: Celebration on the Tennessee River, July 4; Section: Labor Day, Sept. 6; Stevenson: Depot Days, June 10 through 13; Skyline: Skyline Days, June 5.
Tourism contact: Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, 800-648-5381 or www.northalabama.org; Jackson County Tourism Office and Chamber of Commerce, 800-259-5508 or www.jacksoncountychamber.com.