Alabama
 
 
 
 
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Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Alabama.
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Alabama

Known as the Heart of Dixie, Alabama became the 22nd state in 1819. The name Alabama is derived from an Indian word meaning "thicket clearers." Alabama has been at the center of many American battles--between white settlers and Native Americans, and between the North and South in the Civil War. The state also is home to the first of three Space Camps in the United States. These camps let kids experience what it would be like to be in outer space. The capital is Montgomery, and state flower is the camellia.
Flag of AlabamaAlabama State Flag


Alabama's state flag is simply a crimson cross on a field of white. The Alabama legislation does not specify whether the flag should be square or rectangular (only that the bars be at least 6 inches broad), and it is seen both ways.

Alabama Flag Salute

Flag of Alabama I salute thee.
To thee I pledge my allegiance,
my service, and my life.
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of AlabamaAlabama State Facts

Picture: state seal of Alabama
State Capital Montgomery
Nickname Heart of Dixie / Cotton State
Motto Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere - (We Dare Defend Our Rights)
Statehood December 14, 1819 (22nd)
Origin of Name Means "tribal town" in Creek Indian language.
Largest Cities Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa
Border States Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee
Area 50,750 sq. mi., 28th largest
State Bird Yellowhammer
State Flower Camellia
State Tree Southern Pine (pinus palustris)
State Song Alabama
Map showing the location of AlabamaTravel and tourism site for Alabama - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Alabama Stories
 
Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention

Have you ever heard some good, old-fashioned fiddle music? You would if you went to the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, which holds a "fiddle-off" competition each year.

Nicknamed the "Granddaddy of Midsouth Fiddlers Conventions," the Tennessee Valley Convention is held at Athens State University in Athens, Alabama. The idea for a convention began in 1967 when a few musicians who were meeting in a rural Limestone County home decided it was time to bring fiddling out of the living room and onto the stage. Back then, square dances were held almost every week, and fiddlers, guitar and banjo players would play up a storm at homes and social events.

Today, the convention brings back the tradition of competition in old-time music. Contestants compete for prize money in 15 categories, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, old-time singing, banjo, and buck dancing. If you win the "fiddle-off" competition, you are declared the "Fiddle King" and take home a trophy and $1,000.
 
Tuskegee University, Alabama

Congress has designated only one college campus in the country as a National Historic Site: Tuskegee.

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, an educator and former slave who became one of the most influential African American leaders in the United States. The institute later became Tuskegee University. In the beginning, the school was chartered by the state of Alabama to train African American men and women in teaching, agriculture, and industrial trades.

At the invitation of Booker T. Washington, famed botanist George Washington Carver came to Tuskegee in 1896 to head the agriculture department. It was there that Carver developed his method of crop rotation to conserve nutrients in the soil. He also discovered hundreds of new uses for the peanut and sweet potato. In the 1920s, the school expanded its mission and offered its students a liberal arts education.
 
Monroe County Courthouse

Each May in the courtroom and on the lawn of the Old Monroe County Courthouse, actors put on a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Now a museum, the courthouse in Monroe County, southwestern Alabama, has been called "one of the handsomest and most conveniently appointed [courthouses] in the state."

To Kill a Mockingbird is a story about a man who is accused of a crime he didn't commit. The author of the book, Harper Lee, was born in 1926 and she grew up with the old courthouse as the center of all activity on the town square. It's easy to imagine how the elegant courtroom of the old courthouse may have inspired parts of her book. When the book was made into a movie, it is said that Lee insisted that the director of the film visit the Old Monroe County Courthouse before constructing the movie sets. The star of the movie, actor Gregory Peck, also came to see the courthouse and town. He later said that the role of Atticus Finch, who is the accused man's lawyer, was his favorite of all time.
 
DeSoto Caverns

Would you like to go spelunking? Do you know what it is? Spelunking is the exploration of caves as a hobby, including measuring and mapping caves and reporting on the plants or other things that grow in them.

The DeSoto Caverns in north central Alabama are a great place to go spelunking. They have one of the most awe-inspiring collections of stalagmites and stalactites found in the United States. A stalagmite is a cone-shaped mineral deposit that forms upward; a stalactite forms downward.

The caves have a long history. The earliest inhabitant was Archaic man (Archaic Period, 8,000 to 1,000 B.C.), a cave-dweller who lived on small game, fish and nuts. During the 1500s it was explored by the Spanish. In 1796, Benjamin Hawkins, a U.S. agent appointed by George Washington, wrote about the magnificent beauty of the DeSoto Caverns in a report, making it the first officially reported cave in the United States. During the Civil War, the DeSoto Caverns became a site for mining saltpeter, used in making gunpowder for the Confederate Army.

In 1965, the caverns were officially opened to the public. With high-power electric lights the caverns' colorful beauty could be fully appreciated. Today, DeSoto Caverns hosts several major weekend festivals each year.
 
Kentuck Festival of the Arts

Art means different things to different people. For Sam "The Dot Man," art is all about -- you guessed it -- dots.

If you go to Northport, Alabama, in October you can catch the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. This two-day event features 300 nationally known artists and crafts people showing and selling their work. When it began, the festival included mainly local artisans, some of whom gave demonstrations, such as a woman who showed how to make thread out of cotton on a spinning wheel. Today some of these local artists include Sam "The Dot Man" McMillan in his colorful clothes and hat and Charlie "The Tin Man" Lucas, who makes sculpture from wire and other people's trash. There's also Jerry Brown, who continues an unbroken tradition of Southern stoneware pottery that has been in his family for nine generations.

A "petting zoo" of musical instruments from the Tuscaloosa Symphony provides other entertainment for kids while everyone admires the artwork of sculptors, painters and artisans. Children can participate in hands-on craft projects such as squishing clay between their fingers, or making paper hats or tie-dyed garments.
 
Roanoke, Alabama: Home of the Ella Smith Doll

How do you feel when your favorite toy is broken? You want to get it fixed, right? In 1897, a neighborhood girl brought her broken doll to Mrs. Ella Gaunt Smith of Roanoke, Alabama, to see if she could fix it. Who would have guessed that this would help start a business?

Mrs. Smith was a skilled seamstress and amateur photographer before she started making dolls. When she received the broken bisque (a type of porcelain) doll, she experimented for two years before she was able to repair it. She poured the head full of plaster, covered it with a scrap of stockinet (an elastic knitted fabric), and then repainted the features. She sewed the head onto the body and replaced the wig. From this, the Indestructible Ella Smith Doll was born. In 1901, Mrs. Smith received the first patent on her doll, and in 1904 she went to the St. Louis Exposition (World's Fair), where she won a blue ribbon for her dolls.

In the early 1900s, her factory produced 10,000 dolls each year. The dolls are known by several names: Alabama Baby, Alabama Indestructible Doll, Roanoke Doll, or Ella Smith Doll. Smith was the first doll maker in the South to manufacture black dolls -- 10 percent of her dolls were black. Nowadays, an original Ella Smith Doll is worth as much as $20,000.
 
Vulcan, the World's Largest Cast Iron Statue

You might think a superhero is a man of steel but do you know a man of iron? Have you ever heard of Vulcan? Taller than a five-story building, he is a 56-foot cast iron statue of the Roman god of fire.

Vulcan was sculptured in 1904 for an exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair. The Commercial Club of Birmingham, Alabama, commissioned the statue to symbolize the state's leadership in the production of iron. Not only is Vulcan the largest cast iron statue in the world, but it is also the second largest statue in America -- only the Statue of Liberty, made of copper and steel, is bigger.

Vulcan was exhibited at the Palace of Mines and Metallurgy at the World's Fair. At Vulcan's feet were exhibits of Alabama's raw materials and the products made from them. In his right hand he held a spear point, while his left hand gripped a hammer resting on an anvil. When the fair was over, Vulcan was taken apart and transported back to Birmingham, but when it was put back together the arms were installed incorrectly! And, after years of neglect, one of the thumbs rusted and fell off. Now, thanks to recent repairs, Vulcan once again stands proudly on Red Mountain.
Source: Library of Congress
National Forests and Monuments of Alabama

The following is a description of national forests and monuments in the state of Alabama. There are no national parks in this state. If you plan to visit or live in Alabama for awhile then you should definitely plan to visit some of these fantastic places.
 
National Forests
Conecuh

Managed together with Alabama's other National Forests, Conecuh has two areas designated for recreation: Blue Lake and Open Pond. The dry, sandy uplands support longleaf pine forest, while bottomlands have sinkhole ponds, springs, and swamps.
Talladega

Talladega National Forest includes the Cheaha and Dugger Mountain wilderness areas. The Talladega Scenic Byway and Pinhoti National Recreation Trail cross the forest. Talladega is managed together with Alabama's other National Forests.
Tuskegee

Tuskegee National Forest's Bartram National Recreation Trail was Alabama's first National Recreation Trail. Tuskegee is one of the smallest National Forests and is managed together with Alabama's other National Forests.
William B. Bankhead

This forest contains 153 mi (246 km) of trails and the Sipsey Wilderness, which at 24,922 acres (10,086 ha) is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. It is managed together with Alabama's other National Forests.
 
National Monuments
Birmingham Civil Rights

Preserves the A. G. Gaston Motel, a historic site related to the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama.
Freedom Riders

Preserves two sites related to the Freedom Riders in and near Anniston, Alabama during the civil rights movement—a former Greyhound bus station in the town and the site of a bus burning incident outside town.
Russell Cave

Donated by the National Geographic Society, the cave's exceptionally large main entrance was used as a shelter by prehistoric Indians from the earliest known human settlement in the southeastern United States. The rock from which Russell Cave was formed over 300 million years ago at the bottom of an inland sea that covered the region.
 
Travel America
Cool America
About the U.S.A.

About the U.S.A. is an American Studies reader that examines the customs, government, and history of the United States of America. The text provides a wealth of information on U.S. geography and history; the roles of local, state, and federal government; national holidays and symbols; the Constitution; and citizenship. The book, which was written for intermediate to advanced learners of English, contains a range of activities for language students to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. (opens to a new PDF window) Great English reading practice.
About America

Learn about the fascinating history and government of the United States of America. Lessons include content on American Government, American History, and Integrated Civics. Handouts with interactive games and student-centered activities encompass all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Great English reading practice for beginning to intermediate students.
American Teens Talk!

Americans Teens Talk! is a collection of interviews of American high school students. Each interview is accompanied by vocabulary notes and discussion questions. The interviews in American Teens Talk! give learners a view into the lives of adolescents in the U.S. Through the written format of the interviews, learners are able to increase their vocabulary, practice their reading and listening skills, engage in discussions, and learn more about U.S. culture. These interviews come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading
Sing Out Loud Children's Songs

Sing Out Loud Children's Songs includes popular children's songs in the U.S.A. Posters accompany the individual Sing Out Loud Children's Songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs

The Sing Out Loud Traditional Songs collection contains 13 traditional American folk songs and song lyrics. Listen to the songs online, read the lyrics, and collect the posters that accompany the songs. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Sing Out Loud American Rhythms

Do you love music? Want to use it to learn English? Check out the hip-hop inspired song "Peace" from Sing Out Loud American Rhythms. American Rhythms includes a variety of musical genres from many different artists in the U.S.A. These songs will appeal to teens and young adults. These songs come with audio programs. Great English listening and reading practice.
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Cool Stuff
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