While researching things to do in Alabama, I discovered a roadside attraction that was too good to pass up. Located a short drive from the well-known cottage, Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, in the northwestern Alabama countryside is the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery.
The only cemetery of its kind in the world, this off the beaten path, quirky attraction is definitely worth a detour.
The graveyard, known officially as the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, was established in 1937 when Key Underwood was faced with the painful task of laying his faithful hunting dog, Troop to rest. The grounds of the cemetery were a popular hunting camp and Key could think of nowhere more appropriate as a final resting place for his best friend.
Popularity grew and today the cemetery holds the remains of nearly 200 true-blue coon hunting dogs.
The coon dog cemetery is just that, a burial place for coon dogs only and admittance is serious business. There is a careful three-step process that must be completed before you are permitted to bury your beloved hunting hound on these hallowed grounds.
The pet must be verified as an authentic coon dog, but the powers behind the coon dog cemetery won’t take your word for it. A witness must declare the dog a true coon dog and a member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must also view and verify the coon dog as such posthumously.
While visiting, we enjoyed reading both the comical and heartfelt epitaphs on the graves of the beloved hunting companions.
The centerpiece of the cemetery is the 20-foot concrete obelisk ‘tree’ with a pair of coon dogs racing up the trunk.
And here’s another tidbit you may enjoy. If you like movies, you may notice that the cemetery was referred to in the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reece Witherspoon and Josh Lucas. Rumor has it that the movie producers borrowed the original cemetery sign (and didn’t return it), but actually filmed in a different location.
In addition to the cemetery, you’ll find a pavilion where you can have a nice, quiet picnic…
A short hiking trail that leads to a spring, and an outhouse which everyone in my family refused to use. Hint: Make sure you stop and use the restroom before arriving at the cemetery.
This short video does a wonderful job sharing the purpose and vision of the Coon Dog Cemetery.
In preparation for the trip, the kids’ and I each read Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller, though the latter was not a coon dog.
Important information for visiting the Coon Dog Cemetery:
Hours: Open dawn to dusk. Daily.
Location: 4945 Coondog Cemetery Road Cherokee, Alabama 35616
Directions: The Coon Dog Cemetery is located 7 miles west of Tuscumbia on U.S. Hwy 72. Turn left (south) on AL Hwy 247, go 12 miles, turn right, and follow the signs. Just when you really think you’re lost, you should see the Coon Dog Cemetery sign welcoming you to the parking lot.
Other things to do in Alabama:
50 Family Friendly Staycation Ideas for Huntsville, Alabama
Monte Sano State Park
Have you visited the Coon Dog Cemetery? Would you add this attraction to your road trip itinerary if you were passing through Alabama?
This post is linked to Travel Photo Thursday with Budget Travelers Sandbox, Friday Daydreamin’ with R We There Yet, Mom? and Photo Friday with Delicious Baby. This post does include affiliate links.
Saturday 28th of May 2016
Brought tears to my eyes for I have the love for dogs! It's an awesome place and so happy I got see it.
Beth - wildpiglet
Tuesday 10th of May 2016
I have been here. Great place to relax, wander around and have a picnic lunch. It is amazing how much people love their coons. Great place to stop off during a drive up or down The Natchez Trace. The Trace is my favorite road in the US. The Trace is a National Park. It is 666 miles long and goes from TN to MS. Give it try. You will love it.
Wednesday 18th of May 2016
I've been on part of The Natchez Trace, but I'd love to drive all of it some day.
Thursday 20th of June 2013
Love! The south loves their coon dogs - and we love the uniquely bizarre, ya?!
Sunday 16th of June 2013
Love this! I'm going to share this with my brothers-in-law. Their mom lives in Alabama and they'll visit her this summer. Plus their dad used to have coon dogs. Too cool!
Monday 17th of June 2013
It sounds like it will be the perfect spot for them to explore!
Friday 14th of June 2013
Many dogs get more loving than humans so very appropriate to have their own cemetery. I think it's interesting that the dogs have to be vetted first.