Natural attractions, cultural treasures, rich history, exciting sporting events, delicious food and traditional “Southern hospitality” all combine to make up what is known as Alabama’s Mountain Longleaf Region that includes the counties of Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Dekalb and Talladega.
Within the region are eight historic sites, five major camping areas, 28 attractions, 10 golf courses, four lakes and rivers and five hiking trails.
Among the historic sites are The Victoria Inn in Anniston, the Noble McCaa-Butler House and Tyler Hill Historic District both in Anniston, Jacksonville’s First Presbyterian Church, Piedmont’s Cross Plains Depot and Museum, Janney Iron Furnace in Ohatchee, Cornwall Furnace in Cedar Bluff and the Clay County Courthouse and Hugo Black Courtroom in Ashland.
Beginning at the northern end of the region is the Cornwall Furnace Park located off Hwy. 9 in Cedar Bluff. Visitors will find this Civil War era furnance that is believed to be the first cold blast furnace in the country to be powered by water. The furnace sits on a five-acre park that has a 3,000 foot natural trail and picnic pavilion.
A little farther south in Piedmont is the Cross Plains Depot and Museum. Construction on the depot began before the Civil War and was finished in 1869. The depot was known as “Crossroads of the Southeast” during the 1880s. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
South of Piedmont the traveler enters the town of Jacksonville, home to the First Presbyterian Church which is the oldest in the area, having been completed in 1858. During the Civil War the church was a Confederate hospital. It is located at the corner of Clinton and Church streets.
Anniston is home to three historic sites – The Victorian Inn, Noble McCaa-Butler House and the Tyler Hill Historic District.
The Victorian Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and was formerly a 1880s residence the “Kirby House”.
Another historic home in Anniston is the Noble McCaa-Butler House which was built in 1887 in the Victorian style and in the Noble family for over 100 years. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Tyler Hill Historic District is one of the oldest residential areas in the city. The district is set on a rising crest peaking at a small park surrounded by Victorian homes built in the late 1880s. You will find it at East 6th Street and Lapsley Avenue.
Southwest of Anniston in Ohatchee are the remains of a Civil War furnace Janney Iron Furnace which was built in 1863 by 200 slaves. The furnance was burned by Union soldiers and all that remains today are the stone furnace. The park is off Hwy. 144 and includes a museum, furnace and walking trail.
In the southern end of the region down in Clay County can be found the Clay County Courthouse and Hugo Black Courtroom in Ashland. The courthouse was built in 1906 and is home to a Seth Thomas clock built in 1907. The courthouse contains artistic works of Judith Jordan and memorabilia of U.S. Justice Hugo Black who lived and grew up in Ashland before becoming a US Senator and US Supreme Court Justice.