CAHAWBA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's first capital may be a ghost town today, but supporters continue to work hard to make it a destination for visitors interested in state history.
The latest example is the recent arrival of interpretive panels that illustrate the town's background when it was the center of Alabama politics and commerce.
With a new year just arrived, worn-out, handmade creations are being removed and replaced by more attractive signs made possible by a grant from the Alabama Historical Commission.
When the new signs arrived in a large crate, Site Director Linda Derry couldn't wait to open it. She was aware of its contents and it wasn't long before she was inspecting the panels.
"We didn't have to wait for Dec. 25 to take a look at our special present," said Derry, who has played an important role in keeping Cahawba before the public. "The signs will be installed throughout the park a few at a time."
Derry said each sign draws attention to a historic location as well as "subtle clues" left behind in the landscape by those who once lived at Cahawba.
Although the old signs are being discarded, Derry was nevertheless thankful they were posted "because we worked to make them on a shoestring budget."
"For the first time, we'll be able to display actual photographs on location so visitors can see missing structures and town residents," she said.
Derry said an added feature of the new signs is a "QR" code that can be read by smart phones, offering "options for hearing more stories, seeing photos and learning more of the park's secrets."
"We are currently compiling stories and photos to be part of the upcoming cellphone tours," she said.
Cahawba was carved out of the wilderness in 1819 and built atop the remains of an earlier ghost town occupied in the 16th century.
Although it lost its capital city designation in 1826 when the state seat of government was moved to Tuscaloosa before the eventual shift to Montgomery, Cahawba remains the "capital" of Dallas County.
It would grow into a wealthy antebellum river town, one that depended on cotton and slavery prior to the Civil War.