NEW: Foley designated as American World War II Heritage City

City Of Foley
Foley, Alabama. (City of Foley Municipal Government / Facebook)

On December 28, 2023, the National Park Service designated 11 new cities nationwide as American World War II Heritage Cities. One of those cities was the beautiful town of Foley, located just north of Gulf Shores and east of Mobile Bay. Keep reading for all the details.

The new National Park Service designation

City Of Foley Wilbourne Antique Rose Trail
Foley, Alabama. (City of Foley Municipal Government / Facebook)

Just one city from each state or territory can be designated by the National Park Service to be a part of the World War II Heritage Cities program, and Alabama’s one city is officially Foley.

This program “honors the contributions of local towns, cities, counties and their citizens who stepped into the workforce to support America’s war effort during World War II” (National Park Service). These contributions could include defense manufacturing, food and consumer item production, volunteerism and civil defense preparedness.

Foley’s WWII history

So, why Foley? Several reasons stand out:

  • Foley was the site of the U.S. Navy’s Barin Field, opened in 1942 as a training center for pilots. It became an integral part of the Navy’s facilities, serving as an auxiliary training center for Pensacola Air Station.
  • During World War II, Foley’s population boomed and students coming to Barin Field flooded the city. This caused the National Housing Administration in 1943 to build 72 concrete modular apartments where Riviera Utilities is located today. Foley’s wartime population also boomed, with 1,886 enlisted personnel and 165 officers assigned to Barin Field by 1945.
  • Camp Foley was another site of World War II history. This prisoner of war camp had approximately 250 Axis prisoners who were often assigned to work on the surrounding local farmland.
  • The oak tree, flagpole and marker of Foley’s Heritage Park, as well as the Foley Veterans Memorial in Max Griffin Park, serve today to commemorate the city’s service in World War II.

Read more about Foley’s World War II history on the National Park Service’s website.

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Sarah Gronberg
Sarah Gronberg
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