Roadside Curiosities: Alabama’s Coon Dog Cemetery
Last Updated on April 29, 2014 by Jody Halsted
Not only is the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery the first of its kind, it remains the only final resting place of this special dog breed in the world. What began as one owner’s attempt to memorialize his best friend has grown to include a graveyard full of beloved hounds as unique as the creatures themselves.
The Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery
The Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard was established by Key Underwood in 1937 when he was faced with the painful task of laying his faithful hunting dog, Troop, to rest. The grounds of the cemetery had served as a popular hunting camp for years and Key could think of nowhere more appropriate as a final resting place for his best friend.
What began as one man’s memorial for his beloved pet, grew into a burial place for true-blue coon dogs.Keeping in spirit of the hunting camp, only true-blue coon dogs are laid to rest on the hallowed grounds. The pet must be verified as an authentic coon dog through a three- step process that includes a member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. viewing the dog posthumously to confirm that it was indeed a coon dog.
Getting to the Coon Dog Cemetery
The GPS will lead you to the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery in northwest Alabama, but driving along the deserted country road, I guarantee you’ll begin to feel as though you’ve made a wrong turn. Continue on and just when you’re about to give up hope, you’ll see the small metal sign announcing your arrival to the destination.
What to Expect when you Arrive at this Unique and Quirky Attraction
After driving in what seemed like no man’s land, I didn’t expect to see a soul at the cemetery so I was surprised that during the short time my family was there, several cars of tourists pulled in the parking area to check out this roadside attraction.
The focal point of the park is a concrete monument of two coon dogs at the base of an obelisk, representative of a tree and the eternal love of the hunt. You’ll also find over 200 burial plots, some simply a rock or board stating the name of the beloved coon dog who has been laid to rest, others’ offering a more elaborate display with a tombstone, flowers and more rarely, a special momento signifying the bond between owner and dog.
The park like setting offers a pavilion, a short trail to hike and an outhouse that you may use at your own risk.
Plan to spend 15- 30 minutes at the coon dog cemetery and if you have time before you go, you can read Where the Red Fern Grows to help you further understand the bond between a dog and a man.
Where to Find Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery
Location: 4945 Coondog Cemetery Road Cherokee, Alabama 35616
Directions: The Coon Dog Cemetery is located 7 miles west of Tuscumbia on U.S. Hwy 72. Turn left (south) on AL Hwy 247, go 12 miles, turn right and follow the signs.
Hours: Open daily dawn to dusk.