Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Traveling to Away Games in the Early Decades of Alabama Football

A trio of couples head to the Alabama game in 1898.
Today one of the hallmarks of die-hard Alabama football fandom is traveling to away games in the comfort of a luxury mobile home. In fact, the ease of finding a ride to the game is underscored by the headache of traffic around the stadium on gameday. It wasn't always like this.

In the earliest days of Alabama football, travel to out-of-town games was far more difficult. Most often the team played with little to no supporters in the stands. Occasionally, for high marquee games in the region, trains would be scheduled at special rates to ferry fans to and from the contests.

Still, paying the fare could be tough for cash strapped college students. In 1914 UA student George Waring Huston mentioned in a letter to his parents that 50 of his classmates had left the night before walking the 60 miles to Birmingham for the game against Sewanee the next day.

The growing popularity (and affordability) of the motor car as a personal mode of transportation revolutionized the gameday experience by making more distant contests available to the ardent fan. With it was born that staple of the collegiate experience, the impromptu road trip.

But it would take the introduction of the interstate highway and, later, the advent of affordable air travel, to make attending away games a regular occurrence for the Crimson Tide fanbase.

Alabama fans and their jitney bus that conveyed them to the
1907 game against Auburn at Lakeview Park in Birmingham.
A rakish group of UA students pose in their rambler in 1912.
Alabama's Million Dollar Band prepares to embark to Florida
where the Crimson Tide faced the Gators in 1925.


The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
The Tuscaloosa Area Virtual Museum

Houston, George W. Letter to Mrs. R. W. Huston. Nov. 6, 1914. 4 p. Print. Huston Family Papers, University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.