January, 2013. Keeping Busy in Red Bay, Alabama

Posted on February 1, 2013


Sunshine Mills pet food plant.

Sunshine Mills pet food plant.

They careen down the narrow streets, zipping around corners, popping out of alleys.  They tear through the mostly empty old downtown, roaring through the sprawl at the edge that has sucked the life out of the central business district.

They are the motorhomes and tractor trailers that keep Red Bay, Alabama, population 3200, alive.

The tractor trailer traffic is servicing  Sunshine Mills, a pet food plant; Tiffin Motorhomes, Sunshine Homes, a modular home business tucked up next to the Tiffin complex, and the local timbering industry.

Diesel fumes and the smell of dog food give the air a special tang, while the music of Red Bay at work is composed of the constant drone of the mill, pickup truck peel-outs and the honks of impatient drivers.

The motorhomes zipping by may or may not have a body – sometimes it’s just a guy perched on a molded plastic chair driving a stripped chassis from one point to another.  Sometimes it’s the whole thing, coated a uniform primer gray, heading for the Tiffin paint shop in nearby Belmont.

Applying masking in the Tiffin paint shop

Applying masking in the Tiffin paint shop

The streets go every which way – alleys and parking lots treated like streets, buildings jammed behind other buildings. There’s assorted fixing, renovating or whatever taking place just about anywhere there’s some empty space, and streets end abruptly having been vacated by the city as industries expanded.

And over all is strewn an even layer of the detritus produced by industries at work.

If you need a piece of metal or a scrap of wood, it isn't hard to find a pile of "good stuff" here.

If you need a piece of metal or a scrap of wood, it isn’t hard to find a pile of “good stuff” here.

There’s little here in the way of shopping or entertainment, but there IS a lot going on, a lot to see, and lot to smell and hear in Red Bay, Alabama.

Posted in: Travel - Alabama