Band Alabama calls Fort Payne its home
Fort Payne, south of Chattanooga off Interstate 59, is known for its small-town appeal and rich history that dates back to the 1830s.
This historic city, located between Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain, offers a variety of unique destinations and activities for the day traveler. It's probably best known for being the hometown of singer Randy Owen and Alabama, one of country music's most celebrated bands.
At one time, businesses in the self-proclaimed "Sock Capital of the World" manufactured more than half of the nation's socks.
"For years we've used the slogan 'Real Places, Real People' [to describe the Fort Payne experience], but Randy Owen wrote the song 'Feels So Right,' so he uses that," said John Dersham, executive director of the DeKalb County Tourist Association.
For outdoors enthusiasts, the Little River Canyon National Preserve boasts 45-foot waterfalls, sweeping canyon views, rafting, cycling, hiking, picnic and camping areas.
AT A GLANCE
• Population: Just under 17,000 in 2010 U.S. census.
• Best things to do/places to visit: The Alabama Band Fan Museum and its memorabilia from the band's 40-year career, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Fort Payne Hosiery Museum.
• Biggest employers: Children's Place stores distribution facility, Ferguson, Walmart, Plasman Industries.
• Miles from downtown Chattanooga: 54.
• Landmarks or geographic features: Little River Canyon National Preserve, DeSoto State Park.
• Date founded: In 1869 Fort Payne became an official name for the area originally named in 1780 for Cherokee Indian Chief "Red-Haired" Will Weber. The city was incorporated on Feb. 28, 1889.
• Historic info: In 1907 the W.B. Davis Hosiery Mill began operations, ushering in a new industry not only to Fort Payne but across DeKalb County, Ala.
• Most-famous residents: Randy Owen and other members of the band Alabama, country singer Charlie Louvin.
• Odd/unique traditions: Boom Days Heritage Celebration in September, VFW Fair.
• Best-kept secret/fun fact: The city was "boomed" in 1889 by New Englanders, mostly from Boston, who brought a lot of money and founded an iron and coal industry. The city's motto is "Fort Payne ... My Town, Too!"