Resident’s photography book depicts forgotten treasures

Published 3:33 pm Monday, November 23, 2015

“Forgotten Alabama” features a collection of photographs of abandoned treasures in Alabama, such as this old house in north Montgomery. (Contributed/Glenn Wills)

“Forgotten Alabama” features a collection of photographs of abandoned treasures in Alabama, such as this old house in north Montgomery. (Contributed/Glenn Wills)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— After years of collecting photographs of the overlooked treasures in Alabama, Glenn Wills, owner of G’day Vape in Pelham, is publishing his book “Forgotten Alabama.”

The book should be available by the middle of December and features photographs of abandoned bridges, boats, houses, stores, gas stations and more from all over the state.

The idea started during Wills’ more than 30-year trek in TV news. The Alabaster resident said he probably drove a total of a quarter of a million miles in a satellite truck for the stations. One day, driving on U.S. 280, he noticed something.

“I just happened to glance up on the hill there and saw this really cool, rusting 1957 Chevy,” Wills said. “It’s like one of the most beautiful cars ever made.”

After pulling off to investigate, he found a salvage yard filled with acres and acres of rusting cars, none being newer than 1965. From then on, Wills started carrying a camera with him everywhere, and he started noticing other things.

It wasn’t until fall of 2012 that he decided to seriously pursue “Forgotten Alabama.” He bought a good camera and started driving around to see what he could find.

As time went on, he refined his process. Wills said he spent about 400 hours on Google Maps, combing through every federal and state highway. When he saw something of interest, he’d zoom into the street view to determine if it was worth a visit.

That summer he found about 2,000 places he could visit, not including anything off of County Roads.

“I had so many things that I could shoot, I finally had to weed out the lesser important things,” he said. “I finally got it down to a science where I could shoot everything I needed in one day.”

He could only shoot in the winter months, when the kudzu wasn’t growing and the leaves were gone, so he’d plan his trips carefully. He said he would go out 50 or more times during the season, getting into a frenzy at the onset of spring.

In three winters, he had collected all the photos he needed. He had racked up more than 25,000 miles and taken about 10,000 photos total.

“I figure I’ve seen more of Alabama than 99.9 percent of people in this state,” he said.

Of those locations, Wills said he had 20 “holy grails,” one being the Chattahoochee Valley Railroad Depot. He said it was hard to find because you have to know where to pull off the road and just hope you walk in the right direction. He found it though.

In Bon Secour, he was able to take a flat bottom boat out to the site of The Morning Star, an old shrimp boat that was beached during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It was another spot he said he was particularly proud of.

“It’s a beautiful, magnificent old shrimp boat,” he explained. “It got beached on the inlet a little ways from the dock and the owner tried for seven years to get that thing back in the water and he died before he could ever do it.”

In all the placed he visited, Wills said he practiced taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. He said he wants these places preserved and he protects them in his own way.

Wills book will be available for purchase through You may also visit

“I want something to live on after me,” Wills said. “This dream is so close.”