Alabama Route 188: Coden, Bayou La Batre


Once I arrived back on the mainland, after visiting Dauphin Island, I had the choice of driving back to Interstate 10, or taking some of southern Alabama’s smaller roads west towards Mississippi.  Route 188 seemed slower but more interesting, so I followed it through the small towns of Coden and Bayou La Batre.

There isn’t much to see in Coden, except for the town’s shipyard.  You’ll only catch a glimpse of it as you cross the bridge over Bayou Coden on Route 188.

The homes along this stretch of road were already starting to look like what I had expected in this corner of the country: rusty roofs, big front porches, and lots of history.

Bayou La Batre

If Bayou La Batre sounds familiar, there’s a good reason.  In the movie Forrest Gump, as Forrest joined the army, he met up with a man named “Bubba” Blue.  Bubba was from Bayou La Batre, and after Forrest’s service in the Vietnam War, he moved to Bayou La Batre and operated a shrimp boat.

Shrimp fishing is still one of Bayou La Batre’s big industries.  Another is ship building.  You can get a good look at where both take place…

… by parking at the end of the town’s drawbridge, and walking across.

From the bridge, you get a fairly good view of the ships, lined up along the Bayou.  You can also turn down Shell Belt Road (at the stop light just before the bridge), which will take you past the ship yards, and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, before circling back to Coden.

“Bayou” is a Louisiana French word for a slow-moving creek or minor river.  So, when you walk across the bridge in the middle of Bayou La Batre (the town), you’re walking over Bayou La Batre (the river).

Hurricane Katrina devastated Bayou La Batre.  Once the 16-foot storm surge receded, many of the town’s shrimp boats were left on dry land.  It took months for huge cranes to arrive, then carefully lift the boats, and place them back in the water.  A collection of photos from the Anniston (Alabama) Star shows the damage in Bayou La Batre and the surrounding area, six months after Katrina.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive through Coden and Bayou La Batre:

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