Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coon Dog Cemetery

We arrived in Tuscumbia, AL on Tuesday, Nov 1st and quickly settled in. As you may remember, we are hanging out here until Dec 1st when we have an appointment in Red Bay, AL to have a couple things done to Lucy.

Tuscumbia, Florence, Muscle Shoals and Sheffield are the towns that make up the area known as “The Shoals”. Although 4 separate towns, they mostly run into each other but each has their own “claim to fame”. Our friend, Deborah, is a native of Muscle Shoals and when she heard we’d be coming here, she sent a list of things to do, see or eat :) We intend to work our way through the entire list before we leave. Thanks, Deborah!

As the leaves are still gorgeous here in northwest Alabama, we decided to take an afternoon and drive out in the country to visit Coon Dog Cemetery.

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Coon Dog Cemetery is no ordinary cemetery. It’s the only one of its kind in the world. You must be a certified coon dog to be buried here.

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The cemetery was started in 1937 when Key Underwood buried his coon dog, Troop. The burial site was an old hunting camp where hunters and their dogs gathered from miles around. Underwood knew that this was Troop’s favorite place in the world, so on Labor Day, 1937, he buried his companion of 15 years and erected a marker to memorialize him.

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From this tiny beginning the "Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard" was born. Other hunters started burying their coon dogs when they died. Some of the memorials are wood, some sheet metal, some concrete and some professionally done stonework to rival a “people” cemetery.

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Love some of the names and some of the epitaphs :) Depending on which source you believe, there are either 185 or 250 coon dogs buried here. I imagine the real answer is somewhere in-between.

To qualify for burial here, it is said your dog must meet 3 criteria.

  • The owner must claim their pet is an authentic coon dog.
  • A witness must declare the deceased is a coon dog.
  • A member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must be allowed to view the coonhound and declare it as such.

"We have stipulations on this thing," says Larry Sanderson, Vice President of the Coon Dog Graveyard. "A dog can't run no deer, possum -- nothing like that. He's got to be a straight coon dog, and he's got to be full hound. Couldn't be a mixed up breed dog, a house dog."

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The last line on the sign says “prior approval is required”. Somehow, I think they mean it! Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

11 comments:

  1. We have been to a lot of cemeteries along the way, but never a coon dog one:)

    We stopped just south of Montgomery, Al with our next stop Gulf Shores State Park for a week or so. We are in the same state, just different ends.

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  2. Looks like it would be fun to check out!

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  3. I have to agree - only in America!! Should definitely be on everyone's bucket list if ever in that area of Alabama.

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  4. I love it! Wonder if there are special burial grounds for other breeds in other places??

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  5. So glad you enjoyed your visit to the Coon Dog Cemetery. Many years ago, I had the honor of meeting Key Underwood, and he confessed to me that the first dog buried at the cemetery was not Troop, but was his wife's lap dog, which was not a coon dog!

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  6. Oh Deborah...now the secret is out ;o))

    Can't wait to explore Rural America!!!

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  7. Interesting site. I'm always more saddened by dog graveyards than human ones for some reason.

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  8. See, you do learn something new every day!!! thanks.

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  9. How funny! Very interesting! Glad you're settled in :)

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