Thursday, July 21, 2011

Russell Cave National Monument - Bridgeport, Alabama - July 19, 2011

We began our day by driving 165 miles north to the town of Bridgeport, Alabama to visit Russell Cave National Monument. 
Signed by President John F. Kennedy, Russell Cave became Alabama's only National Monument on May 11, 1961. It was declared a National Monument because the cave shelter contains the most complete record of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast. It is believed that Russell Cave provided shelter for at least four cultures from 6500 B.C. to 1650 A.D. - Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian.

 After visiting the small museum and watching a brief historical video we headed down the boardwalk nature trail to the cave.
 The cave has two parts - the big cave on the left and the shelter on the right. The shelter is open to visitors but the big cave can only be explored by experienced spelunkers who have a permit.
 The boardwalk makes a loop through the cave shelter.

There were Native American mannequins placed in the shelter along the boardwalk which, we believe, made the shelter look a bit cheesy.

The area is beautiful and the cave shelter is magnificent, but we would have really liked to wander through the big cave as well.

On our way back down the boardwalk we saw this interesting creature who was ready to fight. After a bit of research we think it might be the tussock moth caterpillar.

When we arrived back at the visitors' center the park ranger was demonstrating the atlatl - a device used for throwing a dart (spear) harder and faster. He showed the boys how to use the atlatl and then let them try two different types. They had fun doing this!

He also let them shoot a bow and arrow.

While we were making our way to Bridgeport we drove through the tiny town of Lickskillet, Alabama.
Lickskillet is near Dogtown, Alabama - home of the famous Akins Furniture.
Dogtown is also home to Ruhama Junior High School - a rock school!!
 According to the school's Website Ruhama School was organized in 1903, however, a tornado destroyed it in 1910. It was rebuilt as a rock school in 1912.

After leaving Russell Cave National Monument, we drove through the town of Hollywood, Alabama! The boys thought that was just a bit impressive.

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