We stayed in Florence, AL at an RV park called McFarland Park (I kept calling it MacArthur Park and humming the disco remix version). It’s on the banks of the Tennessee River, in a large park with picnic grounds, ball fields, a running track, and a marina. Location, Location, Location.
As we were leaving one morning to go to Red Bay, where our coach is made, the manager said, “Be sure to go to Coondog Cemetery and the Rattlesnake Saloon, its a cool bar in a cave.”
We drove about an hour to the Tiffin complex, through beautiful, hilly, autumn-rich woods. While we couldn’t get an appointment to get any repairs done, we did get to shop for some goodies in their parts department, and visit the owner’s lounge.
Before leaving for our two planned stops, I checked my phone to confirm directions to both. Unfortunately, Rattlesnake Saloon was closed that day, but the Cemetery is always open. The countryside is spectacular and we rarely encountered another car as we drove over the rivers and through the woods.
What began when a local hunter decided to bury Troop, his favorite hunting dog, has just marked it’s 80th year in operation! This quiet hilltop spot was donated to a local hunting club in the 1970’s, and more than 300 dogs are buried here now.
Each had to meet strict criteria in order to be laid to rest here:
- They must be a purebred coonhoun
- A witness must verify their breeding
- A member of the Coonhunters Organization must be allowed to view the remains.
Coondogs are a type of scenthound. They were developed to hunt critters like raccoons, possums, bobcats, cougars, and bears – all of which climb trees. They are also used by the police and FBI for tracking.
It was quiet, beautiful, and actually quite sentimental, strolling through and reading the headstones, all of which were decorated and lovingly maintained. I didn’t remember until afterwards that this is the cemetery in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, where Reese Witherspoon buries her dog. (note; the cemetery was replicated for the film).
Now that we’ve been here, I will have to watch the movie again. If you’re in the area, it’s worth the drive, and if the Rattlesnake Saloon is open, head over there and let me know how it is!