On a ridge in the Freedom Hills of Northwest Alabama, in a clearing among century-old oaks and piney woods, one may visit the graves of more than 300 coon hounds. It was Labor Day, 1937, when Mr. Key Underwood lost his beloved canine hunting companion, Troop. Remembering the special times and the special place where Underwood had gathered with friends and other dogs to enjoy the night-time sport and its accompanying camaraderie, he decided that it was the perfect place to lay Troop to rest. The grave was dug by Key, Raymond Wheeler and Wilburn Prater. The dog, wrapped in an old cotton pick sack, was buried. Underwood chiseled his name and the date on a sandstone chimney rock. Today, this grave and its marker remain as a tribute to one man’s love of his dog. Surrounded now by others (many with colorful epitaphs) and with not one, but two, memorial monuments depicting treeing coonhounds, the site rivals human cemeteries in history and in love. The Coon Dog Memorial Cemetery is the only one of its kind in the world.
The annual Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration is held the first Monday of September each year. The public is invited to pay tribute to the dogs and to those who loved them, especially the cemetery’s founder, Mr. Key Underwood, and the first dog buried here. Admission is free, but sales that day will benefit the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery’s fund for the preservation of the site, which is part of the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management area, protected by the State of Alabama.