A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Almost Forgotten

Last week, I found myself driving around northwest Alabama. It was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm for early March. My destination was Rock Bridge Canyon near Hodges. I had not been there in many years, but I remember what a neat place it was. It reminded me of the Dismals Canyon nearby in the town of Phil Campbell. I also remembered the pretty little waterfall that was at Rock Bridge, and I figured, that with all the rainfall that we have been experiencing, the falls would be flowing well. Unfortunately, when I got to the canyon, I discovered that it had been closed to the public. It was now in private hands and the new owners have decided not to permit public access. That’s a real shame because it was such a beautiful area. Users of the nearby equestrian center would ride their horses throughout the park and nature lovers would hike, picnic and enjoy the beauty of this sublimb oasis.

Factory Cemetery, Marion County, Alabama

So, what to do now I wondered. I could drive over to the Dismals which was closeby, but I have been there so often, that I really wanted to see and photograph something new. I thought I would head toward Bankhead National Park and the Sipsey Wilderness and check out Caney Creek Falls. So, I headed back north and decided to keep my eyes open for any potential photo opps along the way. I shot a few interesting barns and a display of American flags along the road. Then, in Marion County near the town of Bear Creek, I came upon Factory Cemetery.

Grave markers dot the cemetery

I have seen many Confederate cemeteries in my day and this one looked older, more primitive than most. The headstones were very spread out, but that might just indicate that many had not survived the years since the Civil War. I didn’t know anything about the cemetery or the area I was in. I did find out later that the area was initially called Allen’s Factory due to the cotton processing factory that was once here. It was burned in the latter years of the Civil War.

Gravestone of 2nd Lieut. David W. Alexander

Those interred at Factory Cemetery were part of the 16th Alabama Infantry. The men were assembled from a number of Alabama counties. They fought in battles in Tennessee and Kentucky. They fought at Shiloh and Perryville and eventually joined up with the Army of Tennessee in campaigns from Murfreesboro to Atlanta. Of the 867 soldiers comprising the regiment, many were lost at battles in Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Jonesboro. Those who survived were disabled at Franklin and Nashville and eventually surrendered to Union forces.

I noticed a few of the headstones that were legible were the resting place of people other than Confederate soldiers. One such headstone commemorated the children of John T (no last name). Another stone read simply “Aunt Mary” who was born about 1800. The exact date is unknown and the year is even in question. It’s also interesting that her race was not in question. The word “colored” is inscribed in the marker.

A Confederate flag marks one prominent gravestove

I never made it to the Bankhead National Park or the Sipsey Wilderness that day, Actually, I did make it to the Caney Creek Falls, but found that parking was no longer permitted at the trailhead location and hikers risked being towed away. So, my little photo outing was pretty much a bust. It was getting too late to find an alternate route to the Caney, so I just decided to head home. I could take some satisfaction in finding this little and almost forgotten cemetery along Highway 172 in Marion County. Some days are just like that I guess.

March 9, 2022 Posted by | Caney Creek, Historic Alabama, Marion County, Phil Campbell, Photography, Sipsey Wilderness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments