S: GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS Patricia Chandler
FC: Great American Outdoors Journal of Shoals Area
1: ~Dedicated to my precious family~ ~Special Thanks to Dr. Hart, UNA History Professor, for teaching me to observe and appreciate nature and our beautiful country~ | By Patricia Chandler Dr. Robert Hart Great American Outdoors July 2010
2: "How strange that nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!" Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J. S. Cooper, 1880 We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful country, the United States of America, and specifically, the Shoals area. Being outdoors is one of my favorite hobbies. Teaching my children the importance of enjoying the beauty of the world around us and all the joy nature has to offer has always been one of my parenting objectives. Being raised by parents that appreciated the outdoors and tending to a garden daily and then marrying an avid outdoors-man, I have developed a love for nature that I want to pass down to my children and also share with anyone that will listen. Also, I always remind my children that nature is God-given and totally free. This endeavor came about for several reasons: 1) Dr. Hart's class first and foremost; 2) looking for outdoor activities that are inexpensive or free; 3) educate myself and others about the area in which we live.
3: We are about to embark on a journey through some wonderful places in the Shoals area. Come along with me on this enlightening adventure. #1 Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge Our first stop on the Shoals adventure is the Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge Site 9 on Gunwaleford Road. The land is rich in history and full of wildlife. Key Cave was established to conserve fish, other wildlife and plants. It consists of 1,060 acres and is five miles southwest of Florence, Alabama. Cavefish and gray bats live in this safe habitat.
4: The Alabama cavefish (Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni) is critically endangered and seeks refuge in the isolated areas as well as the endangered gray bat (Myotis grisescens). The area is full of limestone and sinkholes and several underground caves. Crayfish are also prominent in this refuge. Standing at Key Cave I can see many different bird species such as robins and sparrows. Mourning doves are sounding and very visible. Not visible today but make their home in this habitat are grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels, northern harriers, short-eared owls, loggerhead shrikes, and northern bobwhites. Hardwood forests encase the area with crops of corn and soybean in every direction the eye can see. I enjoyed letting the sun hit my face and listening to the birds sing and watching the grass blow in the wind. This would be a wonderful place to take a time out and reflect. Key Cave is a refuge for wildlife yet it seems like a perfect place for meditation and relaxation. Key Cave is one of eleven wildlife refuges in the state.
6: #2 Gravely Springs Waterloo Road at Bluff Creek Road Next, we travel to Gravely Springs in Waterloo, Alabama. This quiet community seems to entice visitors to come closer. Driving next to the water on a skinny road is a little unnerving yet the beauty of it all settles any nerves. The water is calm and peaceful and birds are bountiful and active. Before the Civil War, this area of Lauderdale County was booming, founded in 1819, with a post office, church and drug store, Due to the Indian Removal Act of 1838, Cherokee Indians arrived in Waterloo in June of that year. Waterloo flourished. Water was so plentiful that Civil War generals spotted this area as a great landing and settled camps here. However, this proved to be a detriment to the community of Waterloo when the town was bombed extensively by Union troops after shots were fired at a Union boat. Just walking on this ground knowing that soldiers replenished their thirst here at this spring, fought, and died on this land is surreal.
7: Today,butterflies are plentiful. A Monarch the size of a softball lights on the rocks. The sound of running water is abundant and soothes the soul. Water flows into a creek bed that carries little minnows in the currents. Sampling the spring water was a lot of fun. It was so cold and refreshing. Wildlife and plants thrive here. Trees stand tall and healthy. My children enjoyed this area so much that we have already gone back to sample more water and play in the creek and watch the magnificent blue and yellow Monarch butterflies.
10: These are sketches of Civil War Infantry Confederate uniforms of soldiers that were stationed in Northwest Alabama and Southern Tennessee.
12: #3 BRUSH CREEK off Waterloo Road, Waterloo, AL Free camping Bathroom Facilities Pavilion Tables with river view Swimming Boat launch
14: Tom Hendrix lives on County Road 8 in Lauderdale County at the corner of the Natchez Trace. This is one of the most beautiful wooded areas in the Shoals area. Tall pines and oaks span the ground on every side of the road. I was so honored to visit with Mr. Hendrix about his beautiful and miraculous creation that took him thirty-two years. He built this rock wall in memory of his great grand-mother that was from the Euchee Tribe. She was removed from the area in 1839 during the infamous Trail of Tears Indian Removal. After several years in a territory now known as Oklahoma, she slipped away and walked back home. It took her five years. I asked Mr. Hendrix several times, “Five years?” I cannot imagine what her journey back must have been like. What amazing scenery she must have witnessed along her long and weary travel. Mr. Hendrix wanted to do something to honor the memory of this amazing woman and her perseverance in return | #4 ROCK WALL
15: to her native land. During a visit in Tulsa with the only living members of the originally small and greatly diminished Euchee Tribe, an elder woman told him, “All things shall pass. Only the stones will remain.” On his trip back to Alabama he pondered and then it hit him, “We have rock. Our area is full of stone of every shape and size.” He decided to build her a commemorative wall in the shape of the journey she took during her removal from the area and return home. He placed one stone for every step she made. Some statistics that Mr. Hendrix gave me about building the wall were as follows: 1) his truck held 900 lbs. of stone and over the years a total of 8 million lbs. was carried; 2) the structure took him 32 years to build; 3) the stone has come from 127 countries and territories and one meteorite; 4) it is the largest unmortared wall in the United States; 5) the wall is the largest memorial to a native American woman; 6) the wall is environmental art; 7) it is one of twelve spiritual nature places in Alabama; 8) the Library of Congress is coming next month to log this monument in its archives; and 9) over the years he worn out three trucks, 27 wheelbarrows, over 2600 pairs of gloves, 3 dogs and 1 man.
16: Spiritual nature sanctuary
17: Gazing at the remarkable rock wall was very spiritual. It is so massive and my thoughts were on Mr. Hendrix’s great grandmother’s journey home and what she must have encountered along the way. The sun flickered through the trees and the rocks sparkled and glistened in the afternoon sun. There was calm and peace in this place. Sadly, I had to leave. Gates are open thirty minutes after sunrise and close thirty minutes before sunset.
20: #5 Shoals Creek Preserve Three miles north of St. Florian on County Road 61/Butler Creek Road Shoals Creek Preserve consists of 298 acres of tract land which is home to several habitats such as creeks, hardwood forests and grassy fields. Mostly flat land, this area is a horseman’s paradise and great for hiking and observing nature. Picnicking and canoing would also be great activities as well as bird watching or photography shooting. Gates are open one and a half hours after sunrise and close one and a half hours before sunset.
22: #6 Iron City Iron City, TN- Shoal Creek Canoe Run on Hwy. 227 (5 miles west of Hwy. 43 and 5 miles east of Hwy. 13. (25 minutes south of Lawrenceburg, TN and 25 minutes north of Florence, AL) Canoe rental is available or bring your own canoe or kayak for a free adventure and enjoy the scenery.
24: #7 David Crockett State Park off Hwy. 64 in Lawrenceburg, TN Camping Fishing Swimming Amphitheater Restaurant overlooking river Group Camp Boating Picnic Pavilions Hiking Bike Trails
26: #8 AMISH COMMUNITY ETHRIDGE, TN Most Amish communities consist of primarily furniture makers and lumber workers. This settlement is part of the Swartzentruber lineage. In the Ethridge Amish community, they are mostly farmers and work with low level technology and slow moving buggies. Their community is right off the busy four-lane highway but near the Amish homes, there is a quiet peaceful society. The land is broad and mainly flat and full of vegetation. Corn and beans are plentiful, green and ready for the picking. On the back roads, there are many Amish homes with farms. Each home has multiple barns and little wood signs are at each home explaining what they sell. Many sell food such as fresh vegetables.
27: Other homes have molasses and still others have clock repair, cabinet building, rugs, etc. Nothing may be purchased on Sunday. However, this is a nice day to drive through the community and enjoy the nature that surrounds. Doves scatter as they seem surprised when someone comes by. The tall grass is waving swiftly in the wind while horse and buggies are on every road to be seen as the families are busy going to church and family outings. The smell is not that pleasant as horses are on the roads often and leave their mark quite frequently. Making up for the foul smell are the beautiful sites. Clothes blow in the wind by each home, rabbits are seen frequently hopping across the road, chipmunks and squirrels are very busy and each home has a barn with cows, horses and hay. Living with nature is a big part of the Amish society as simplicity is their lifestyle. No air conditioning or utilities are in the Amish homes. They spend a great majority of their time outside and I make the assumption that they appreciate the natural world more than most. Etheridge, TN, North of Lawrenceburg, TN, 65 miles South of Nashville. There is an Amish Welcome Center that gives out maps.
32: Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge, Site 9. www.northalabamabirdingtrail.com. Larry Shields. Civil War art. Historical Artist. 2004. Sam E. Yoder. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, 1987. July 20, 2010. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E87. html. Tennessee Department Of Environnment and Conservation, 2009. www.tnstateparks.com. Tom Hendrix, Euchee Indian Historian, interview, July 18, 2010. www.quotegarden.com/nature.html. 2004. Most of the material included was from observation or information at each site.
33: "I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright." ~Henry David Thoreau | "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." ~William Shakespeare