Did you know that Pioneer Park & Loachapoka Historic District are just 5 minutes outside of Auburn? I have been living here for 3 years and had no idea until recently, so I had to go check it out. It did not disappoint! If you are a history nerd like me, (and even if you aren’t) you need to go see what it is all about. We have gathered all the information you need to know for a visit to Pioneer Park, so follow along with this guide below.
1. History of Loachapoka
Before you go, it is important to know the history behind this cool town. Loachapoka was originally a Creek Indian town before the white settlement. In the Muskogee language, the word “Loachapoka” means “Turtle Killing Place”.
The town became the regional trade center during the Euro-American settlement, especially in 1845 when it became the east-most point on the Montgomery railroad. 1870 is when Loachapoka peaked, with a population of 1,300. It has slowly declined since then, with the latest census population being only 180. Loachapoka was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 11, 1973.
Loachapoka is also home to the very first Rosenwald School, which I thought was really cool and something to be proud of. Rosenwald Schools were created by Julius Rosenwald to provide an education for African Americans in the South. There are now over 5,000 in the United States.
Now, Loachapoka Historic District and Pioneer park aim to preserve the rich history of this town. They want to share their traditions and unique heritage with present and future generations.
2. What All Can You See & Do?
There is a whole lot to see and do at Pioneer Park in the Loachapoka Historic District. The museum is made up of 9 structures to explore. It includes the Old Trade Center, the Ruth Purdy Speake Cabin, the Taylor Whatley Building, the Blacksmith Shop, Doctor McLain’s Office, the Loachapoka Gin Office, the Cook House, and a reconstruction of the Loachapoka Jail.
The Lee County Historical Society Museum is located inside of the Old Trade Center, which is the is the oldest commercial structure in the county built in 1845. Inside, you will find authentic examples of things that would have been sold at the trade center. It has an upstairs and downstairs full of cool things to look at and learn from.
All of the other buildings on the site are locations for demonstrations and exhibitions. The Ruth Purdy Speake Cabin demonstrates open hearth cooking and one room school buildings. The Taylor Whatley Building shows the old farming tools and agricultural styles. The Blacksmith Shop (my personal favorite spot) is where craftsmen come to demonstrate their forge work.
Your best bet is to just walk around exploring each of the different buildings because they are all in such close proximity. You will get something different and educational out of each one!
3. Plan Your Visit With These Dates & Events
The Second Saturday of each month is definitely when you will want to visit Pioneer Park. They call them “Second Saturday’s,” and it is where history re-enactors come to the Museum in period clothes to demonstrate their craft. The activities will be different each month, so you can keep on coming! The activities will always be open from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
- Sundilla Emi Sunshine Concert: Thursday, June 3rd at 7:30 PM
- Tia Gonzales Herb Workshop: Saturday June 5th at 9 AM
- Creek Indians of Alabama Tour: June 12th-16th
Every October the park holds a Pioneer Day with fun activities, so stay up to date with the details on their Facebook page.
Location: 6500 Stage Road, Loachapoka AL 36865