Midway between Montgomery and the Georgia border, Tuskegee (pop. 9,477) is a medium-sized town that has grown up around Tuskegee University (334/727-8347). Founded in 1881 by former slave Booker T. Washington to help black Americans rise up the economic ladder, it’s now a national historic site. Many of the early buildings built by student laborers still stand around the university’s 5,000 acres, which include the campus, farm, and forest land. The main points of interest are close to the entrance off Old Montgomery Road. Here you’ll find the George Washington Carver Museum (334/727-3200, closed Sun., free), which is part of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site and traces the career of Tuskegee teacher George Washington Carver, with displays of the various products Carver developed during his lifelong tenure at Tuskegee.
Facing the Carver Museum across the lawn is the strikingly modern Tuskegee University Chapel, designed by noted architect Paul Rudolph and built from 1967 to 1969. The graves of both Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver are next to the chapel.
Southeast of the college campus, the center of Tuskegee is a broad square dominated by the large Macon County Courthouse. At the Rexall Drug Store on the west side of the square, the store windows are filled with lessons in African American history, illustrated by a “Tuskegee Airman” edition of GI Joe.
East of Tuskegee, the I-85 freeway races up to Atlanta, while US-80 rolls its way east to the engaging old industrial city of Columbus, across the Georgia border.