Museum association forms museum trail

Published 3:32 pm Monday, January 30, 2012

The map of Shelby County's Museum Trail designed by Chuck Watkins with Classic Panorama. (Contributed)

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Shelby County currently boasts six museums, and while each museum is exceptional in its own way they have one common objective: to educate and inform Shelby County residents of their rich history.

“We’re so fortunate to have this many museums in one county,” said Helen Phillips, the daughter of Karl Harrison and a volunteer at Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington in Columbiana.

The museums have teamed together to create the Shelby County Museum Trail. The trail includes the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington, Shelby County Museum and Archives, Shelby Iron Works Museum, Confederate Cemetery, Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum and the Aldrich Coal Mine Museum. The firefighter museum will also be included upon its official opening in Calera.

“We’re looking forward to the new fire museum. We’re very excited,” Phillips said.

The majority of the museums are free to the public, although visitors are welcome to make donations.

Chuck and Carla Watkins of Classic Panorama in Chelsea have played a large part in the designing of the museum trail brochures and online virtual tours of each of the facilities. Watkins provided custom art for the museum trail and volunteered countless hours creating the virtual tours.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing it,” he said. Watkins has been a photographer since he was in the Navy and has valuable experience with panoramic software.

“(The tours) may take some time to load on some computers, but its worth the wait,” Watkins said.

“It’s wonderful. It promotes our county. We’re so blessed and fortunate,” Phillips said of the work that Watkins did for the museums. “If you’re going to live in Shelby County, you need to know the history of the place you live.”

To experience the virtual tours of Shelby County’s Museum Trail visit

For more information or to schedule a group tour please contact Stacy Walkup at 669-9075 or