Ever onward

Alabama 21 south of Hayneville on a clear morning.

Thursday, July 31, 7:51 a.m. — HAYNEVILLE — The barrenness of Alabama 21 as it makes its way north and east toward the state capital is immense. Through Wilcox County and into Lowndes County, this two-lane state highway can be as quiet as a library.

South of Hayneville, a small town of about 1,200 people not that far from Montgomery, the Alabama 21 landscape turns from the prime timber land of Monroe and Wilcox counties into farm land worthy of Ansel Adams’ lens. Here, Alabama 21 can be the type of road where a traveler can pull over, sit cross-legged astraddle the yellow dividing lines and not have to move for 10 minutes.

Poverty is mixed with wealth, rusting barns of the past not far from the estates of the well-to-do who’ve chosen to live outside of Montgomery’s suburbs. Cows and their pastures are common sights. This stretch of 21 calls out for Sunday drives, top down.

Hayneville is Lowndes County’s county seat; its mid-sized courthouse is the first thing of substance you see when you enter the town on Alabama 21 North. A Confederate monument sits in a pleasant grassy courtyard that faces the courthouse’s outdoor staircases. The monument reads: “The soldier dead of Lowndes. To devotion and valor.” Names of former CSA soldiers adorn the monument’s base. Nearby is a small monument to local law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

Relatively speaking, Hayneville is a new town along Alabama 21. Its history dates back to its time as a cotton and rail center south of Montgomery, but it wasn’t incorporated until 1968. It has a public high school, Central High. Its name comes from Robert Y. Hayne, a former South Carolina governor and U.S. senator. (Hayneville was settled by South Carolinians who headed west.)

When you leave Hayneville, Alabama 21 turns back into its former self — a two-lane, rural highway that eventually takes you to U.S. 80, your entryway to the state capital.

— Phillip Tutor