Discover the world's longest yard sale and a spectacular waterfall shrouded in legend
If your vacation plans include some Civil War history, a little sightseeing of beautiful waterfalls and rivers, maybe a winery or two with some golfing thrown in, then there's a town in the Deep South that offers all that and more. You need to plan your route to include the Lookout Mountain Parkway and hit the gas for Gadsden, Alabama.
World's Longest Yard Sale
Visitors to Gadsden will be interested to know that on the first Thursday of every August, the town undergoes a magical transformation from peaceful community to the World's Longest Yard Sale.
The yard sale starts in Noccalula Park in Gadsden and travels up the Lookout Mountain Parkway to Chattanooga, Tennessee, turns onto Route 127 and eventually ends up in Michigan. This four-day event has over 1,000 vendors in Alabama alone. Buyers can find everything from antiques and collectibles to homemade jams and jellies.
The sale started in 1987 as a way to get people off the interstate and explore the back roads and the communities that occupy those roads. It began as a 350-mile sale that is nearly 700 miles long today.
If plan on going, make your lodging reservations early because RV parks along the route fill up fast. Traveling with your RV is the perfect way to go because you'll always have a home to come back to and the perfect way to carry all of treasures you've purchased from the locals.
You'll also find that in addition to the yard sale, many of the communities will have chicken barbecues to benefit their local fire companies. Churches and businesses hold sidewalk sales with discounted merchandise. You'll also meet a lot of interesting and fun people and have a great time searching for the bargain of a lifetime.
If you make it to Gadsden anytime other than those early days of August, that's okay, because there is still lots to see and do.
Kick around in Noccalula Park, named after a Cherokee princess who is fabled to have leapt to her death from the cliffs overlooking the waterfall. Legend says Princess Noccalula was to be married to a powerful chief in keeping with her father's wishes. The handsome brave that she was in love with was not good enough for her father, so he banished him. At her wedding feast, Noccalula quietly wandered away from the festivities. Heartbroken and alone, she threw herself into the chasm. Today, the park commemorates her legend with a statue.
At Noccalula Park, you'll also find Pioneer Village, a cultural exhibit of Gadsden's earliest settlers and an animal habitat where the whole family can enjoy various types of animals including fox, fish, birds and an African lion.
There is an admission charge to the park, but with it comes a free train ride. Visitors can get a lay of the land by taking a ride on the C. P. Huntington replica train. You'll take a one-mile scenic ride around the park, and you can ride it as much as you want while you're there.
Gadsden resident Emma Sansom was only 16 years old when Union colonel Abel D. Streight and 1,700 infantrymen raided her hometown and burned the only bridge crossing Black's Creek. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest had a mission to reach the union troops and stop them before they could get to Georgia. Landlocked, Forrest went in search of a local who was knowledgeable of the area and quickly found the Sansom homestead.
Sansom volunteered to lead the Confederate troops to a nearby ford where they could cross without danger of drowning. Forrest and his troops were able to catch up to the Union troops the next day and capture Streight and his raiders at Cedar Bluff. Sansom's actions immortalized her as a Confederate heroine. Today, a monument depicting her actions stands in downtown Gadsden.
Historic Downtown Gadsden
Now it's time for a little shopping on Main Street in downtown Gadsden. This little town has something for everyone. There is a used bookstore, a couple of wineries and even a drive-in. On the first Friday of every month, the downtown business group holds "First Friday." They block off Broad Street and fill the parking spaces with classic cars, motorcycles, food vendors and live music. The fun starts in the summer months around 6 p.m. and in the winter around 5 p.m.
Here in the Deep South, racing cars comes as natural as kissing your girlfriend goodnight. Just a few miles from Gadsden is a dirt track where you can watch from the grandstand or take your fastest car out for a spin. The Green Valley Speedway is open to spectators and drivers of stock and mini stock cars.
Lookout Mountain Parkway
There is one more thing you need to do while you're in Gadsden. You need to pack your camera and a picnic lunch and take a drive on the Lookout Mountain Parkway. The parkway is filled with beautiful overlooks, canyons and lakes. Escape for a day into the mountain. You won't regret taking this journey.
For More Information:
City of Gadsden
Alabama Tourism Department