Fort Payne, the county seat of DeKalb County, houses the headquarters for Little River Canyon National Preserve, the second-deepest canyon in the country east of the Mississippi River. The 15,288-acre preserve also protects what is said to be the nation's longest mountaintop river, the Little River, which flows for almost its entire length down the middle of Lookout Mountain, creating the 650-foot-deep canyon.
Although pitched in Chattanooga as a tourist attraction for sites like Rock City and Ruby Falls, most of Lookout Mountain sits in Alabama — 73 miles of the 100 miles are in Alabama, says John Dersham, president and CEO of DeKalb County Tourism.
Fort Payne also houses one of the nation's largest state parks — DeSoto State Park — which connects directly to Little River Canyon National Preserve.
"Tourism is by far or largest industry," Dersham says.
There's also lots of public land on top of the mountain, offering 150 rental cabins, eight bed-and-breakfast hotels, lots kayaking, rapelling and rock climbing.
ON THE BIG STAGE
Founders of the Alabama band, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, are all cousins from Fort Payne. Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook formed the group in 1969.
The group’s biggest success hit in the 1980s when it had more than 27 No. 1 hits and seven multi-platinum albums.
The band had singles and multi-platinum record sales until it disbanded in 2006. The group reunited in 2011 and continue to tour and record.
>In homage to the family who helped make it famous, Fort Payne houses an Alabama Fan Club and Museum located at 101 Glenn Blvd. SW.