Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Step Back in Time at Tannehill State Park

Just a bit southwest of Birmingham, Alabama sits the remains of what was once a prosperous iron-making center before and during the Civil War. Nestled on over one-thousand acres of land and covering three counties, Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park offers a look into the past and provides many hours of enjoyment to the visitors who enter it's gates.

According to the Bessemer Camber of Commerce website, "The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is the birthplace of Birmingham's iron and steel industry. Tannehill is presently one of Alabama's most unique state parks. Built around the ruins of the pre-Civil War Tannehill Ironworks, this state park has become an accurate reflection of life in Alabama during the mid-1800's."

In the early and mid 1800's, Tannehill was discovered by a Pennsylvanian, Daniel Hillman, who built the furnaces and dug the rich ore needed to make iron. A couple of years later, Tannehill was taken over by Ninian Tannehill. During the Civil war years, Tannehill's furnaces produced enough iron to supply the Confederate troops with ammunition, cookware and tools before being destroyed by the Union army in 1865.

In the late 70's, one of the iron-producing furnaces was restored. Tannehill became an industrial historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being designated as a Civil War Discovery Trail site.

Today, Tannehill offers much to the history-buff and nature-loving tourist. Along with the restored furnace, a 19th century village was built, offering a look into the past with a working grist mill, dairy barn, and cotton gin where artisans display their works with pride. The old Cane Creek schoolhouse from Warrior, Alabama, was moved to Tannehill in 1981 for preservation purposes. It can be seen along with various cabins such as the Nail cabin (originally located near Mt. Olive, Alabama) in which my maternal grandmother's great-great-great grandmother was born. (Today, visitors can rent it overnight for $80.)

The Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama can be found on the premises as well. It features 19th century iron-making technology and genuine Civil War artifacts. For more information, see the museum's website link above.

March through November (every third weekend) offers the Tannehill Trade Days where hundreds of people come to trade and/or purchase everything from common items to antiques. you can't call this one a simple flea market folks!

Also on the premises you can find a sweet shop, the Furnace Master's restaurant, country store, horseback riding, camping, a train ride, fishing and much more.

Special Events include Civil War re-inactments, fishing tournaments, archery championships, a Moon Pie eating contest, car shows, a dulcimer festival, and plenty of holiday entertainment throughout the year.

There are plenty of educational opportunities at Tannehill as well, such as the Tannehill Learning Center which is coordinated through the University of Alabama. Year-round, "school children not only witness how early Alabama schools operated but are exposed to special interpretive programs dealing with iron production, agriculture, Native Americans, plant and animal life, the natural environment and Alabama history".

Tannehill has a lot going on and offers so much for the local population and tourists alike. For more information, please visit the links below.

Mailing Address:
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
12632 Confederate Parkway
McCalla, AL 35111
(Park Phone Number) (205) 477-5711


© 2007 Dana Sieben