Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Toomer's Corner - Auburn, Alabama - July 26, 2011

After visiting Horseshoe Bend we drove 45 minutes south to Auburn, Alabama. We wanted the boys to be able see the Toomer's oaks just in case they don't survive. According to the Auburn University Website we won't know if the trees are going to make it until next Spring. The trees looked pretty bad today because they are in they defoliating stage. According to the Trees Task Force leader they will continue to defoliate and re-foliate because of the type of poison that was used on them.

This famous intersection, now known as Toomer's Corner was named for businessman and State Senator Sheldon Toomer who founded the Bank of Auburn here in 1907. He served 45 years as bank president and 25 years on the Auburn city council. Toomers Corner is adjacent to Auburn University's historic Main Gate and a tradition to generations of Auburn University students who gather to celebrate the "Auburn Spirit." -Information obtained from historic marker

Another iconic symbol at Auburn University is Samford Hall. 
 In 1859 the building that sat on this site was called Old Main and served as the main building for East Alabama Male College. In 1862 classes were suspended because the building was being used as a hospital during the Civil War. Classes resumed in 1866. On June 24, 1887 Old Main burned. It was rebuilt in 1888 and named for Governor William J. Samford in 1929.
This picture, borrowed from the Auburn University Website, shows the original "Old Main" which was built in the Italianate style at a cost of $111,000.
 Samford Hall makes a great backdrop for pictures.
#2 enjoyed visiting the campus but #1, being a fan of that other team, did not enjoy being at Auburn. We had to bribe him with a milkshake so we could take some good pictures of the boys.

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park - Daviston, Alabama - July 26, 2011

We began our day by driving about 80 miles south-east to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. This was not in our original plan for the day, but we were so close that we couldn't pass it up.

The boys were immediately drawn to the bright blue cannon in front of the visitors' center.
The small museum gave a brief history and description of the area and the battle complete with dioramas, artifacts, and replicas.
The first stop along the driving tour was "The Island." On March 27, 1814 forty members of the Tennessee Militia were ordered to occupy the 15-acre island to prevent Red Stick warriors from seeking refuge. Any Red Sticks crossing the river were sunk before they could reach the island.
The second stop on the tour was "The Barricade." The log barricade was built by the Red Sticks across the peninsula. It was anywhere from 5 to 8 feet high with port holes all along it so the Jackson's Army could not approach it without being exposed to enemy fire. The white fence posts mark the position of the barricade.
The third stop was "Cherokee Crossing." The Red Sticks hoped the river would protect them from Jackson's attack, but Jackson surrounded the bend with his Creek and Cherokee allied warriors who launched a surprise rear attack into the Tohopeka village.

Stop #4 was the Tohopeka Village site. Tohopeka means fort or fortification. This was a temporary Red Stick village built several months before the battle. The Cherokees burned the village during their attack. We took a short hike up to "The High Ground" or village overlook. Although it was a pretty hot day, the clouds made for great pictures.
After the battle the surrounding land and much of east-central Alabama remained Creek. This area was not ceded to the United States under the Treaty of Fort Jackson, and Creek people continued to live here until the 1830s. Starting in 1836 the U.S. Army forcibly removed over 19,000 Creeks from Alabama.
Up the hill behind this shelter is a monument dedicated in 1918 to Andrew Jackson and his men. The funny thing about this monument is that it has the wrong date for the battle. It says the battle took place on March 29, 1814 when the battle actually happened on March 27th.
#2 wanted to put this picture on the blog. He was impressed with this foot-sized mushroom. 

The boys thought this was an okay stop-over on our way to Auburn. They would have liked it more if we'd had the time to hike the nature trail.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cathedral Caverns State Park - Woodville, Alabama - July 19, 2011

After leaving Bridgeport, we drove about 50 miles south-west to the town of Woodville, Alabama. Woodville is home to Cathedral Caverns State Park. Since the boys are so fond of caves we just knew they would love visiting this one!

Originally called Bats' Cave, Cathedral Caverns was opened to the public in 1955. The owner at the time, Jay Gurley, took his wife through the cave and she said all the formations reminded her of a cathedral - which is where the current name originated. In 1987 it became an official State Park. The cave went through major renovations not long after becoming a State Park and reopened in August 2000. The cave now has a paved lighted pathway 10 feet above the original path. After using the cave to film the 1995 Tom and Huck a generous donation from the Walt Disney company afforded the opportunity to build a bridge inside the cave that was designed by the Alabama Department of Transportation. This bridge made the majority of the cave wheelchair accessible.

Cathedral Caverns claims to hold 6 world records.
#1 Widest cave entrance of any commercial cave in the world - 128 feet wide and 25 feet tall.
 #2 "Goliath" is the world's largest column formation - 43 feet tall, 243 feet in circumference, and 40 feet thick. The crack in the column was supposedly caused by the great 1812 Missouri earthquake that also made parts of the Mississippi River run backwards for a few hours.
#3 Largest flow stone wall - 32 feet tall and 135 feet long

#4 Largest "frozen" waterfall

#5 Largest stalagmite forest of any cave in the world

#6 Most improbable formation in a freestanding stalagmite - 3 inches wide at the base, 25 feet tall, growing on a rock that is sitting at a 45-degree angle.

The original entrance to the stalagmite forest is a small hole that floods every time it rains. After Mr. Gurley, the owner at the time, was trapped on the wrong side of the hole a new entrance was planned.
The hole in this picture is located just above #1's left hand.

This bridge was part of the original tour when the cave opened to the public in 1955. The Disney bridge is much safer!

The cave is an official fallout shelter. It is estimated that about 10,000 people could fit in the cave - however there are only enough parking spaces for 50 cars. In case of emergency....arrive early!!

According to the park's superintendent, if a cloud has formed just inside the entrance to the cave it is going to rain within 24-48 hours. It rained the day this picture was taken!

The boys give this cave two thumbs up!