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Movie Myth: Is Pigeon Creek, Alabama, a Real Place?

Movie Myth: Is Pigeon Creek, Alabama, a Real Place?

“Sweet Home Alabama” helped put Reese Witherspoon on the map as a talented actress. Another star of the movie was her character’s hometown, Pigeon Creek, Alabama, which may have played a more significant role in her life than she realized.

The South has some pretty colorful place names, but this is one we hadn’t run across in our travels. (We’re pretty sure we’d remember it if we had.)

This made us wonder: Does Pigeon Creek, Alabama, exist, or is it a Hollywood creation?

Let’s find out!

Is Pigeon Creek, Alabama, a Real Place?

The movie’s main character, Melanie Carmichael, wants to escape her Southern past for a more glamorous life in New York City. Her hometown is called Pigeon Creek, Alabama, just outside a small city named Greenville.

In real life, there is an actual Greenville, Alabama. It’s about 45 miles south of Montgomery in southern Alabama, along Interstate 65.

But while Alabama has lots of towns with memorable names, Pigeon Creek isn’t one of them. In other words, it’s the name that the movie’s writers gave to a fictional town.

Pro Tip: While exploring Alabama make sure to check out The 7 Best Alabama State Parks for Camping.

Where Is the Real Pigeon Creek? 

Likely, the filmmakers and writers didn’t have to go far for inspiration when looking for a name for the fictional town of Pigeon Creek.

While there’s no city or town named Pigeon Creek in Alabama, there is a small waterway with that name. And it’s right there in Butler County, Alabama, not far from Greenville.

Was Any Part of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ Filmed in Alabama?

The main character’s “sweet home” does get some screen time. The vast mansions she drives past on her way back home are actual historic homes in Eufaula, Alabama. Eufaula is about 100 miles east of where Pigeon Creek, Alabama, would be.

The cemetery for hunting dogs featured in the movie is a real place, too. It’s just outside Tuscumbia, in northwestern Alabama.

Pro Tip: Want to have your own Sweet Home Alabama experience? Go chasing waterfalls at these 7 Amazing Waterfalls in Alabama.

Where Was Pigeon Creek in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ Filmed? 

The filmmakers chose to film much of “Sweet Home Alabama” in other states, which is ironic for a movie with Alabama in its title. The bulk of the filming took place in Georgia, and a few key scenes are from Florida.

Other scenes featured New York City. Standing in for Melanie’s hometown is Crawfordville, Georgia. Crawfordville appears in many scenes of the movie, including those at the sheriff’s office, the post office, and the bank, as well as the roadside bar. Crawfordville is a tiny and picturesque town about 90 miles east of Atlanta, and it sees lots of action in movies set in the South.

One reason is its proximity to Atlanta. Georgia has long supported the film industry with tax breaks and other incentives, and Atlanta has numerous production facilities and people with expertise in filmmaking.

Reese Witherspoon's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Sweet Home Alabama launched Reese Witherspoon into a successful movie career.

Where Is the Mansion in ‘Sweet Home Alabama?’

In a pivotal scene of the film, Melanie returns to her family’s gorgeous Greek Revival-style mansion. If the town of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, existed, such a wonderfully preserved structure would likely be its showpiece.

However, the stately and graceful home of Oak Hill is more than 200 miles away, in Rome, Georgia, outside Atlanta. Oak Hill is on the campus of Berry College. It was the home of the college’s founder, and today it’s also a museum.

When Did They Film ‘Sweet Home Alabama?’

“Sweet Home Alabama” hit theaters just over a year after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. According to Internet Movie Database, filming started in October 2001 and wrapped up the following January.

The movie has the distinction of being the first one filmed in New York City after 9/11. It was also the first time that the famous jeweler Tiffany & Co. allowed cameras inside since 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Is the Fictional Pigeon Creek Alabama a Real Depiction of Alabama Towns? 

In the film, the made-up place called Pigeon Creek, Alabama, plays the part of a quintessential small Southern town. Like many Hollywood films, some elements of “Sweet Home Alabama” are pretty realistic while others seem more like a fairy tale.

There are quite a few moments that will make some modern-day residents cringe, but other details ring true. It relies heavily on outdated Civil War references for cheap laughs, and some of the North-South rivalries seem overblown.

On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to find dogs in Alabama named after football coaches. At the risk of giving away the storyline, the movie shows that every place has good and bad qualities. Another takeaway is that you shouldn’t be ashamed of where you came from, no matter what other people think of it.

Even if it has a funny name like Pigeon Creek and people speak with a drawl.

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