Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2005-03-24

An April 9 bike ride through Alabama's historic Black Belt will also offer opportunities for non-riders and history buffs to visit historic sites in the area.

Sponsored by Samford University's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, the "Old Howard 100" bike ride will take bicyclists along scenic routes varying from 30 to 100 miles through Perry and Hale counties.

The bike routes begin and end in Marion, where Samford was founded as Howard College by Alabama Baptists in 1841 and remained until it moved to Birmingham in 1887. Registration is still underway for riders. Proceeds will benefit Sowing Seeds of Hope quality of life initiative in Perry County.

The bike ride will start at 9 a.m. from the parade grounds of Marion Military Institute (MMI).

For non-riders, guided walking tours of Greensboro and Marion and other activities will be available. Tours of Greensboro will depart from antebellum Magnolia Grove home at regular intervals between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A single tour of downtown Marion will depart at 2 p.m. from the Old Howard 100 registration desk at MMI. Plans are also underway to showcase the work of the Auburn University School of Architecture's Rural Studio.

Tours are offered free of charge except for a $3 admission to Magnolia Grove and a donation request at Safe House Museum in Greensboro.

Afternoon events include a 1:30 p.m. ceremony in Greensboro to dedicate a newly-installed historical marker at the site where the Alabama Baptist Convention was founded in 1823. The marker is located at the intersection of Highways 14 and 61.

Samford president Thomas E. Corts, Alabama Baptist Historical Commission executive director Frances Hamilton and other denominational and local officials will lead the ceremony.

A presentation on Samford's Marion heritage will take place at 4 p.m. in MMI's Ireland Center.

Along the bike routes, Samford volunteers and local hosts will staff five Support and Gear (SAG) stops. Sites are: Newbern's historic First Baptist Church, built in 1849; Greensboro's Magnolia Grove, built in 1840; Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church and cemetery with graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and picturesque tombstones; Holmstead Plantation and Country Store in Folsom; and Suttle Volunteer Fire Department in the Perry Lakes area.

Registration for riders is $25 through March 31 or $35 after that date. The fee includes a tee-shirt and a meal to be served as riders complete their routes. Riders must wear helmets and sign a liability waiver. In case of severe weather, the ride will be held on April 16.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.