A new PastPort to discovery

By RENE’ DAY / Community Columnist

The countdown to Alabama’s 200th birthday has begun, and from now through 2019, new sites, sounds and celebrations will commemorate the formation and designation of America’s 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819. Among the many new publications to appear as a part of the Bicentennial is one specifically written and produced to spark the spirit of adventure in us all. If you’ve ever wished to be a time-traveler, then the Alabama PastPort is for you.

Alabama’s Bicentennial PastPort Guide gives state traveling a purpose. (Contributed)

The book may be small, but it is packed with information on over 300 sites in the 67 counties that make up this place we call home. Obviously, some of the tales will be quite familiar. However, there are others that are often overlooked, but interesting and important nonetheless. PastPort breaks the state into seven regions made up of eight to 12 counties each. Within the book’s 174 pages are discovery sites in each county described and illustrated with dynamic original artwork. It becomes, in fact, a checklist of all the locations you need to visit if you want to really know your state. And, even better, it acts as an authentic passport because you can get it stamped as you journey from place to place. You can find a list of stamp site locations at the end of each chapter.

With spring break season almost here and summer coming quickly, it might well be perfect timing for you to explore this part travelogue, part history book and part adventure journal. Start close to home in Region IV – the Appalachian Highlands region including Shelby and its surrounding counties. Just the title for Shelby County’s page, “Bullseyes. Shiners. Muscadines.” ought to pique the wanderlust curiosity in us all. And, you can get a stamp for this section of your PastPort at one of five “not to be missed” locations – The American Village, Aldrich Coal Mine Museum, Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington and the Shelby County Museum and Archives.

To make PastPort possible, the Alabama Bicentennial Committee partnered with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., Airbus, Verizon and Alabama NewsCenter. And this publication is only the first of several other resources available for the traveler in everyone. A new interactive mobile app will be available soon. For free, it will allow users to learn interesting facts about historical sites in each of Alabama’s counties. To enhance classroom learning, teacher resources available for download are also coming.

Birthday parties are always fun. This Bicentennial bash is going to last awhile and, as Alabama celebrates, her citizens will get a number of gifts. This one is definitely worth its small cost. Claim one of the new PastPorts as your prize by going to

Shopalabama200.com.