Key Underwood, Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard
About the Artist/Site
In 1937, hunter Key Underwood buried his beloved coon dog, Troop, in a favored hunters’ camp known as Sugar Creek in the hills of Colbert County’s Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area. Underwood felt that this would be a good place to honor the friendship they had shared, and he chiseled a special stone to mark Troop’s eternal resting place. Although his original intention was not necessarily to share this spot with others, when Underwood’s brother’s own hunting dog died, he buried him there as well, and the men then realized they needed to protect that site. They leased the property from the owner, a local lumber company, and named the spot the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard.
Word about the cemetery spread, and there are now more than 185 coon dogs buried on this site. Each grave is solemnized with a commemorative marker made from all varieties of materials, including stone, metal, wood, and found objects. There is also a granite sculpture of two coon dogs barking up a tree that stands at the entrance to the cemetery. In order for a dog to be buried here, three conditions must be met: the owner must declare that the deceased was a bona fide coon dog (that is, hunted raccoons exclusively), a witness must corroborate this, and a member of Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must also view the dog and declare it authentic. The breed of the dog is immaterial as long as the dog meets the other requirements. The cemetery still accepts new internments, and is regularly contacted by people from all over the United States about burials.
Because Troop died just before Labor Day, the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association holds an annual anniversary celebration every Labor Day that includes a liar’s contest and music. In 2002 a reproduction of the Graveyard was featured in the film Sweet Home Alabama, and the site is now listed in the county’s tourist brochures and website, increasing interest and visitation.
The Memorial Graveyard is open daily during daylight hours.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
16535-16537 County Road 11
Red Bay, Alabama, 35582 us
Latitude/Longitude: 34.5150053 / -88.0978204
16535-16537 County Road 11, Red Bay, Alabama, 35582, United States
You can find the Coon Dog Cemetery seven 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. The Memorial Graveyard is open daily during daylight hours.