The Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee, Alabama, approximately 25 miles northeast of Red Bay began in 1937 by Key Underwood when he sadly buried his faithful coon dog, Troop. They had hunted together for more than fifteen years and were close friends.
The burial spot was a popular hunting camp where coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coonhounds. Those comparisons usually began and ended with Troop … he was the best around. On a dreary Labor Day in 1937, Underwood said good bye to his legendary coonhound. He wrapped Troop in a cotton pick sack, buried him three feet down and marked the grave with a rock from a nearby old chimney. On the rock, with a hammer and a screwdriver he had chiseled out Troop’s name and the date; a special marker was erected in his memory. Underwood said “When I buried Troop, I had no intention of establishing a coon dog cemetery. I merely wanted to do something special for a special coon dog.”
Out of one hunter’s devotion to his faithful coon hound, the “Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard,” was born. The site has become a popular tourist attraction and is the only cemetery of its kind in the world. Other hunters started doing the same when their favorite coon dogs died soon after. Today more than 200 coon dogs from all across the United States are buried at this spot in northwestern Alabama.
Three requirements must be met to qualify for burial in this unique cemetery.
- The owner must claim the dog is an authentic coonhound.
- A witness must declare the deceased is a coon dog.
- A member of the local coon hunter’s organization must be allowed to view the coonhound and declare it as such.
The major event at this cemetery is its annual Labor Day celebration to honor this special group of deceased 4-legged friends. The honorees list include names such as Patches, Preacher, Flop, Bean Blossom Boomer, Night Ranger and Famous Amos; all “certified” coon dogs. The celebration is hosted by the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunter’s Association and entertainment includes music, dancing, food and a “liar’s contest.”
Know Before You Go
You can find the Coon Dog Cemetery 7 miles west of Tuscumbia on U.S. Hwy 72. Turn left on Alabama Hwy 247, and travel approximately 12 miles. Then turn right, and follow the signs.