Bankhead Tunnel, Mobile

Bankhead Tunnel is a road tunnel in Mobile that carries Government Street under the Mobile River from Blakeley Island to downtown Mobile. Constructed in 1938-1940, it features Art Deco-style entrances and a large “flood door” that can close to prevent water from Mobile Bay flooding the tunnel during storm surges. Built in sections, each section was sunk next to the previous section and joined underwater. The depth of clearance is 40 feet for the ship channel over the tunnel. Bankhead Tunnel was the location of a scene in the 1977 Steven Spielberg hit “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” with a character played by actor Richard Dreyfuss driving through the tunnel chasing UFOs.

Photo Credit: Alabama Department of Archives


Red Mountain Expressway

Want a close-hand look at rock formation and a lesson in geologic history? If so, simply drive through the Red Mountain Cut, one of seven National Natural Landmarks in Alabama. “The Cut” was created by blasting through part of Red Mountain in the 1960s to extend the Red Mountain Expressway into downtown Birmingham. Due to high cost and time, engineers discarded a proposal to create a tunnel through the red ore and instead built the Red Mountain Expressway Cut, which exposes geological strata that spans millions of years.

Photo Credit: Internet

Kershaw/Progress Rail

Kershaw/Progress Rail

When Montgomery-based Kershaw Manufacturing Company Inc. was incorporated in 1944, it was responding to the need for efficient vegetation control equipment for utility companies and railroads, and as a result became a pioneer in early vegetation control. Kershaw is now a subsidiary of Progress Rail Services Corporation, a leading integrated and diversified supplier of railroad and transit system products and services worldwide. In 2006, Progress Rail was acquired by Caterpillar Inc., a foremost global manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

Photo Credit: Kershaw/ Progress Rail

Alabama Power Hydro

Alabama Power Hydro

Alabama Power was founded on renewable hydro energy and manages 14 hydro facilities along the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior rivers. Its hydroelectric plants provide about 6 percent of the company’s power generation. These dams impound more than 157,000 acres of water and provide more than 3,500 miles of shoreline for public use and recreation. Lay Dam on the Coosa River near Clanton was built in 1914 and was Alabama Power’s first major project. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Alabama is ranked sixth in the nation for renewable energy capacity, primarily because of its existing hydro generation.

Photo Credit: Alabama News Center

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

The federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created in 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development to the Tennessee Valley. It would also strengthen economic development and modernize its areas of service, which includes most of Tennessee, portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, and small sections of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. TVA’s service area in Alabama covers about 8,979 square miles, about 10 percent of TVA’s territory. TVA operates two solar facilities in Alabama – a 23-kilowatt site at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and a 25-kilowatt site at the Florence wastewater treatment facility. In 2017, TVA sold over 17.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to 17 municipal and eight cooperatively owned utilities that distribute TVA power in Alabama.

Photo Credit: Tennessee Valley Authority

Car manufacturers: Hyundai, Mercedes, Honda

Car manufacturers: Hyundai, Mercedes, Honda

Alabama auto manufacturing keeps on rolling.  Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz operate plants here and the number of automotive suppliers in Alabama that support those plants also grows. Mercedes Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County produces 300,000 vehicles annually. In Talladega County, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama produces 340,000 vehicles and 340,000 engines every year. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Montgomery County produces 400,000 vehicles and 720,000 engines annually. In January 2018, Toyota and Mazda announced a joint venture to build an assembly plant in Limestone County with production of the Toyota Corolla and a new Mazda crossover expected to begin in 2021.

Photo credit: Montgomery Chamber of Commerce

Selma: Edmund Pettus Bridge

Selma: Edmund Pettus Bridge

The 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March was a pivotal moment in the nation’s progress toward racial justice. The Edmund Pettus Bridge, which marchers crossed on their way to Montgomery, is among the most sacred places in civil rights history. Law enforcement officers attacked marchers with tear gas and nightsticks on March 7, 1965, a day that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” The attention the march generated helped persuade Congress to adopt the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Built in 1940, the bridge is considered a significant engineering improvement over the old bridge that had to be opened by hand.

Photo credit: Art Meripol 

Cohrane-Africatown BridgeCohrane-Africatown Bridge

Cohrane-Africatown Bridge

Alabama’s only cable-stayed bridge is the Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge carrying US 90/US 98 Truck across the Mobile River from the mainland to Blakeley Island in Mobile. Opened in 1991, the bridge was named after the 60-year-old vertical-lift Cochrane Bridge it replaced and nearby historic community of Africatown. The bridge design by Volkert and Associates, Inc. earned the firm two awards in 1992 – the Outstanding Engineering Achievement in the U.S.A. Award from the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Award of Excellence in Highway Design from the Federal Highway Administration.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Huntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn Rocket

Huntsville: Saturn Rocket

Fun fact: A rocket built in Alabama burned more fuel in one second than Lindbergh used to cross the Atlantic. It was the powerful Saturn V, a multistage liquid-fuel expendable rocket used by NASA’s Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. The largest production model of the Saturn family of rockets, the Saturn V was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The Saturn V had 13 missions, the first 12 for the Apollo program and the 13th launching a Skylab space station into orbit. Two Saturn V rockets are on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Photo credit: Chris Granger

Horton Mill Covered Bridge

Blount County: Horton Mill Covered Bridge

Pennsylvania is the state with the most covered bridges with about 200, yet Alabama boasts the nation’s highest covered bridge over a body of water. It’s the Horton Mill Bridge that stands 70 feet above the Black Warrior River in Oneonta. Built in 1935, Horton Mill is one of three covered bridges in Blount County, making Blount County the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama. The original bridge was built in 1864 near its present location. The one-lane Horton Mill Bridge is 208 feet long and is open to slow-moving traffic.

Photo credit: Tom Starkey