Buddy Vines Camp

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Buddy Vines Camp is a campground and boat launch on the Locust Fork near its confluence with Mulberry Fork forming the headwaters of the Black Warrior River and the upper reaches of Bankhead Lake. It is accessed on Buddy Vines Camp Road from Alliance Road, north of Gilmore.

The camp was founded on family-owned land by John Aaron "Buddy" Vines and his wife Daisy at the same time that Bankhead Dam was being completed, in 1915. He set up a sawmill on the property and began constructing two-room weekend cabins for visiting fishermen. Vines soon switched to offering yearly rentals carefully-screened families to discourage the use of the camp for illicit entertainments.

Vines constructed a 2-story "Big House" from heart pine as a home for his growing family, and sold fishing tackle, soft drinks, candy and snacks from a store on the ground floor, and offered seating to his customers on a wide porch overlooking the camp. He also built a fleet of oak johnboats to which visitors could mount their own outboard motors.

Vines' sons Charlie and Marlin inherited the business when their father died in 1956. Marlin left to work as a tailor in the 1960s. Charlie and his wife Kathryn opened up a restaurant in the Big House, specializing in fresh-caught catfish. The building burned to the ground on the day the restaurant was set to open on May 16, 1969.

Long-time patrons of the camp volunteered their time to help the Vines family rebuild. The restaurant opened in spring 1970 and enjoyed great popularity. Vines retired from operating a restaurant after his children finished college in the late 1970s but continued to rent cabins and manage the convenience store, and to host Bible study groups on the porch on Sunday mornings.

After Charlie and Kathryn passed away, the business passed to their son John C. Vines, also called "Buddy". He and his family rent out the 13 cottages and 17 mobile home sites and host occasional events at the Big House.


  • Perry, Lauren (October 18, 2023) "Learn more about one of Birmingham’s oldest businesses—Buddy Vines Fishing Camp." Bham Now

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