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Town of Eufaula’s historical heritage lures visitors

By John N. Felsher 

The town of Eufaula, whose population numbers about 15,000, dates back to 1816. Even before that, Creek Indians lived and hunted along the Chattahoochee River for centuries. The word “Eufaula” comes from a Creek word meaning “high bluffs” because the river carved some impressive land formations as it flowed through the area. In fact, many people call Eufaula “the Bluff City.”

In the early 19th century, the town became a booming shipping center. Wealthy people built large homes on the riverbanks. While many Southern towns burned during the Civil War, Eufaula survived intact. In April 1865, Union Gen. Benjamin H. Grierson approached the city with his army. Under a flag of truce, Dr. C.J. Pope, mayor of Eufaula at the time, led a delegation to the Union camp to tell them that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had already surrendered his army in Virginia. They persuaded Grierson to spare the town. As a result, many antebellum homes in the historic district, some dating back to the 1830s, remain occupied to this day.

“The Eufaula area has quite a historical heritage,” says Jack Pelfrey, executive director of the Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce. “The Eufaula Historic District has more than 700 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the annual Eufaula Pilgrimage, many historic homes that are currently occupied are open for public tours. People dress up in antebellum attire. It’s like a visit back in time.”

The annual Eufaula Pilgrimage Tour of Homes (www.eufaulapilgrimage.com) takes place every spring. Highlighting the tour, the Shorter Mansion dates to 1884. Visitors may also tour museums honoring six former Alabama governors from Barbour County and Admiral Thomas Moorer who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1970-74.

For Independence Day, Lakepoint State Park will hold a festival July 5. “We’ll have live entertainment all afternoon, vendors selling homemade goods and kids’ activities,” said Sone Kornegay, park sales director.  “We’ll grill hamburgers and hot dogs. In the evening, we’ll have a big fireworks display. We just want people to come see what we have to offer and let them know we are here.” In September, a motorcycle rally will visit the park.

For more information on Lakepoint Resort State Park, call 800-544-5253 or 334-687-8011, or www.alapark.com/LakePointResort. For area information, call the Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce at 800-524-7529 or www.eufaulachamber.com.