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Spotlight: Decatur

Meet history at every corner of a town forged in the Civil War

Throughout its history, the small city of Decatur in northern Alabama has been anything but forgettable. Founded in 1820 as a scrappy backcountry ferry crossing, it was soon transformed—almost overnight—with the arrival of the railroad and major industry. The burgeoning settlement expanded and the population boomed. The first glimmers of a city on the rise began to emerge. Then, during the Civil War, Decatur’s place on the map and its all-important railroad junction ensured it would be fiercely fought over.

The city, miraculously, was rebuilt—even as two separate plagues of remorseless yellow fever tore through the rebuilding efforts. Today, clusters of perfectly preserved Victorian-era bungalows that were constructed during the city’s rebirth still dot its two historic districts.

Decatur CVB

Decatur CVB

History Lover’s Paradise

There’s just no denying it: This is a town for history buffs. So much so that the town has both an Old Decatur Historic District and a New/Albany Decatur Historic District—you can visit both in one stroll. Stop at the Decatur Visitor Center at the center of town beforehand to pick up some self-guided tour maps of each district. One of the major highlights is the Blue & Gray Museum of North Alabama.

When it’s time to jump back into the present day and unwind with a bit of family fun, head for Point Mallard Park. In fact, if you’re traveling with children, you can absolutely plan to spend more than a few days here, as the park is, in fact, home to a water park, 18-hole golf course, driving range, ice skating complex and batting cage area. Hiking trails and biking trails ring the park.

Decatur CVB

Decatur CVB

Civil War Re-enactments

As far as major events go, the Battle for Decatur is a must. Held over Labor Day weekend each year, this Civil War re-enactment is free and open to the public. In addition to battle re-enactments, it includes a re-created walk-through Civil War camp with displays of authentic equipment. Narrated tours are offered at various points during the weekend by Civil War guides.

For More Information

Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Alabama Tourism Department