On May 15, 1966, a venture called the Alabama Historama officially opened for business alongside the recently established USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The attraction featured a train (pictured below cutting the ribbon on opening day), a mock train station, and a “historama” museum, said to feature a dynamic history of Alabama in four diorama displays. A small sign indicates that this attention-grabbing billboard, which featured the six flags of Mobile, was created by Crawford Advertising Agency, a business operating in Mobile from 1950 to 1970. Unfortunately, the Alabama Historama was a short-lived Causeway attraction; it would shutter its doors within a couple of years.
“The Alabama Historama is the only attraction of its kind in the country. The complete history of the State is depicted in diorama displays, among which are Indian massacres, naval engagements, Civil War battles and the world’s largest relief map of Alabama.”Photo courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History
1963: The state of Alabama forms a commission to raise money to bring the soon-to-be-scrapped USS Alabama to Mobile. Their efforts would generate around $800,000.
1964: The USS Alabama arrives in Mobile Bay after a voyage from Seattle and through the Panama Canal.
1965: USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park officially opens.
1966: Four local entrepreneurs open the Alabama Historama adjacent to Battleship Park.
1970: A local hotel operator builds a motel on the property, and the former historama is converted into the motel’s restaurant.
1975: Restaurateur John Word begins operating the now-legendary Captain’s Table Seafood Restaurant in the one-time historama building.
2017: Following a 2015 fire, the Captain’s Table is demolished.
By The Numbers
$100K Amount of money raised by Alabama school children to help bring the USS Alabama to Mobile.
390K Number of visitors to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in its first year. By the time the Alabama Historama opened, however, attendance had sagged to under 300,000 a year.
75 Acres of dredged Bay material used to create the first phase of Battleship Park. As seen above, grass didn’t take easily to the dredged soil.
365 Number of days the Captain’s Table Seafood Restaurant was open each year. Yes, that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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