A concise illustrated guidebook for those wishing to explore and know more about the storied gateway that made possible Alabama's development
Forged through the territory of the Creek Nation by the United States federal government, the Federal Road was developed as a communication artery linking the east coast of the United States with Louisiana. Its creation amplified already tense relationships between the government, settlers, and the Creek Nation, culminating in the devastating Creek War of 1813–1814, and thereafter it became the primary avenue of immigration for thousands of Alabama settlers.
Central to understanding Alabama’s territorial and early statehood years, the Federal Road was both a physical and symbolic thoroughfare that cut a swath of shattering change through the land and cultures it traversed. The road revolutionized Alabama’s expansion, altering the course of its development by playing a significant role in sparking a cataclysmic war, facilitating unprecedented American immigration, and enabling an associated radical transformation of the land itself.
The first half of The Old Federal Road in Alabama: An Illustrated Guide offers a narrative history that includes brief accounts of the construction of the road, the experiences of historic travelers, and descriptions of major changes to the road over time. The authors vividly reconstruct the course of the road in detail and make use of a wealth of well-chosen illustrations. Along the way they give attention to the very terrain it traversed, bringing to life what traveling the road must have been like and illuminating its story in a way few others have ever attempted.
The second half of the volume is divided into three parts—Eastern, Central, and Southern—and serves as a modern traveler’s guide to the Federal Road. This section includes driving tours and maps, highlighting historical sites and surviving portions of the old road and how to visit them.
Kathryn H. Braund is Hollifield Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. She is author of Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685–1815, editor of Tohopeka: Rethinking the Creek War and the War of 1812, and coeditor of Fields of Vision: Essays on the Travels of William Bartram, and William Bartram on the Southeastern Indians.
Gregory A. Waselkov is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of South Alabama. He has written, edited, and contributed to many books on southern archaeology and history, including Old Mobile Archaeology and A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813–1814.
Raven M. Christopher is chief curator at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. She is coauthor with Gregory A. Waselkov of the Archaeological Survey of the Old Federal Road in Alabama, Final Report, prepared for the Alabama Department of Transportation.