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Diary of Tallassee Now

By Michael Butler

Another Tallassee Now is in the books. I've been attending the annual event since the first one back in 2009. This year was no exception. If you missed it, you missed out.

There is much about Tallassee to be proud of, and Tallassee Now showcases Tallassee - its history and what it is today.

My family and I arrived at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium on Saturday morning and were given free bottled water while we awaited our shuttle pickup.

Our first stop would be the Thurlow Dam Plant tour. This has always been a highlight of Tallassee Now. The scene of the 1928 Alabama Power Company hydroelectric plant underneath the 1940 Benjamin Fitzpatrick Bridge on the Tallapoosa River is so picturesque.

Brantley with a Tallassee carbine replica

David Waites led the tour as he did when we took the first tour almost a decade ago.

It's interesting to note that there are two dams at Thurlow, the original Tallassee Mills dam and the power company dam that was constructed built on top of it. The whole concept of how hydroelectric power works and how the Tallassee plant is still state of the art almost a century after it was devised is an engineering marvel.

At the top of the hill, above Thurlow is the 1800s era mills including the 1844 mill that was a Confederate armory in the 1860s. Ronnie Brantley talked about the masterful craftsmen who constructed these terrifc structures of stone drawn from the river below. "Our ancestors did it," as he pointed out, without the conveniences of modern machinery.

The Tallassee Rifle, an 1864 carbine, was put together at the only Confederate Armory known to survive the Civil War. They were stamped, "Tallassee, CSA." Only 13 are known to still exist. One is at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Larry Williamson has written a book on the gun that is so rare. We saw him at the Trophy Room with other local authors. The Trophy Room contains exotic trophy animals collected by Billy McKenzie over the years. Artwork by late Tallassee artist Dovard Taunton is also on display there.

We saw more of Taunton's works at Trustmark Bank with an exhibit also featuring displays by Wetumpka-born Kelly Fitzpatrick.

The tour came full circle with the shuttle bringing us back to the stadium just in time to collect our $1 barbeque plates. The kids couldn't resist funnel cakes as well.


I saw city councilman Jeremy Taunton. He won a prize - a rifle. It wasn't a Tallassee carbine though.

Time was running out on the festivities. The classic cars were pulling out. The vendors were packing their things. Nathan Taunton was singing the final verse of Merle Haggard's "Kern River."

It was a fun four hours. It's a time to appreciate Tallassee and what it has to offer. I'm already looking forward to the next one.

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