Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dismal's Canyon, Phil Campbell, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon is a designated National Natural Landmark although still remaining private. It is designated a National Natural Landmark because of its uncommon, wild rugged character, largely the result of its geological history. There is a 1-1/2 mile hike along the stream, over the stream, around waterfalls, boulders and trees. It was quite a struggle for Jim and he almost turned around, but he stuck it out to the end.  The dogs had a blast too. I had to let them off leash to get over the stream and let them play in the stream. 

Let's begin our journey:

The stairs down to the canyon

Down at the bottom of the stairs is Rainbow Falls. The falls were the source of power for a great mill that was destroyed by a flood sometime in the 1950's. The pool at the top was used to baptize members of the local churches back in the early 1800's. 

About 10,000 years ago a massive earthquake tumbled these house-sized boulders together to form the natural bridges that are all around the area. During the earthquake the rocks were sheared off the 60 foot canyon walls and shoved out just enough to make a winding natural rock stairway. I did not make it up there, but wish I did.

Phantom Falls

The Chickasaws lived in this area around 1800's.

This rock is considered the "Indian Head Rock."  There is the profile of an Indian Warrior - do you see his "Mohawk" haircut and his majestic nose?

Look at how huge these boulders are - you will see Jim in a few of the pictures along the way.  About 10,000 years also this area was also inhabited by a tribe of Paleo Indians. They were the first man known to inhabit this part of the U.S. (We also visited Russell Cave in the northeast corner of Alabama, where Indians also inhabited the cave about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago.)

The Eastern/Canadian Hemlock is the first Champion Tree in Franklin County. There were two Champion trees until an ice storm destroyed one of them. The tree is 138' tall, 8'9" around and has a crown spread of 50'. It is the largest of its species in Alabama, and one of the largest in the world.

Weeping Bluff - The water that seeps from this bluff is said to be tears shed by the Canyon for the loss of its only true friends - the Chickasaw Indians. In 1838 U.S. troops rounded up the Chickasaw and held them under guard in this Canyon for two weeks before herding them like cattle to Muscle Shoals where they began the Trail of Tears. Ninety percent of the Chickasaw Nation perished on the Trail of Tears.

The Witches Cavern is a strange and beautiful labyrinth of moss and fern covered boulders where the largest colony of Dismalites resides. (Dismalites are tiny bioluminescent creatures. These glowworms require a select habitat to survive and are unique to only a few places on Earth. They are close cousins of the rare glowworms found in Australia and New Zealand. Guided night tours allows visitors to see these unique insects.

It was originally thought that Aaron Burr hid in Burr's Hideout after shooting Alexander Hamilton, but upon further investigation it became apparent that Rube Burrors, an 1800's Alabama outlaw, used this area as a hideout. The sound of the names, accompanied by the Southern dialect, resulted in this mistaken identity of whose hideout it was.

 The swinging bridge, and the end of the trail.

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