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Tannehill Ironworks State Park




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General Information

Description - Daniel Hillman, a Pennsylvania furnace man, first built a forge on the banks of Roupes Creek in 1830, where he had found the richest deposits of brown ore in his experience. Hillman died two years later, the family's fortune unmade. Ninion Tannehill later took up the forge as a sideline to his farming operation.

Between 1859 and 1863, slaves cut sandstone rocks, transported them by skids and stacked them to form three tall furnaces. Tannehill No. 1 was built by the noted Southern iron master Moses Stroup, who later built the Oxmoor Furnace, the first in Jefferson County. William L. Sanders purchased the operation in 1862 and set about expanding the ironworks. Like the wheels and gears of a huge machine, the industrial center at Tannehill kept up a fierce momentum. Trees on the hillsides were felled to be made into charcoal that fed the huge blast furnaces. Roupes Creek and a mighty steam engine powered the blowing machines to heat the fires that melted ore to be formed into "pigs" of iron which, in turn, formed the tools of war for the Confederacy.

At the height of production Tannehill turned out as many as 20 tons of iron a day. The iron was cast into ordnance, skillets, pots and ovens for the Southern army. Like the wheels and gears of a huge machine, the industrial center at Tannehill kept up a fierce momentum. Trees on the hillsides were felled to be made into charcoal that fed the huge blast furnaces. Roupes Creek and a mighty steam engine powered the blowing machines to heat the fires that melted ore to
be formed into "pigs" of iron which, in turn, formed the tools of war for the Confederacy. At the height of production Tannehill turned out as many as 20 tons of iron a day. The iron was cast into ordnance, skillets, pots and ovens for the Southern army.

On March 31, 1865, it all ended in fire and destruction. Three companies of the Eighth Iowa Cavalry swept through the area as a part of Union General James Wilson's raid on Alabama war industry sites. Smoke rose from the charred remains of the cabins that housed 600 slave laborers. At day's end the furnaces were no longer operational, and the foundry, tannery, sawmill and gristmill were in ruins.

Recreation - At Tannehill Ironworks State Park, there are more than 1,500 acres preserved for hiking, camping and picnicking. A miniature railroad chugs through the pines.

Campground accommodations, both primitive and improved, are plentiful. Horseback riding excursions are available at Tannehill Trails. There is never a shortage of excellent food, with the Sweet Shoppe, Furnace Masters Restaurant and the Country Store that offers picnic goodies.

The third weekend of each month, from March through November, shoppers and swappers come from far and near to Tannehill Trade Days in search of tools, clothing, jewelry, knives, furniture and other treasures. Other events include a dulcimer festival, gem and mineral show, woodcarvers show, educational programs for school children, a Labor Day celebration and Christmas candlelight tour.

Climate - The climate of Alabama's lowlands can be described as subtropical with nearly 60 inches of rain each year. The highest amount of rain reaches the region as afternoon thunderstorms in July, August and September. Summers are extremely hot and humid with temperatures frequently reaching above 100 degrees F. Summer nights cool slightly and provide a good time to travel through the region.

Winter temperatures are mild, rarely dipping below 40 degrees with the humidity level at its lowest in November and December. Spring and fall are very pleasant times to visit the region. Spring brings mild temperatures and blooming trees and flowers. During the fall temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees F with low humidity levels. Northern Alabama is generally cooler than the south due to its higher elevations.

Location - Tannehill is located off Interstate 59, 12 miles southwest of Bessemer, less than 30 minutes from downtown Birmingham. Take I-59/20 to Exit 100 and follow the signs (approximately 2 miles) or you can take I-459 to Exit 1 and follow signs (approximately 7 miles).


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Elis Floyd (Sheffield , Al)
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This was a real rewarding trip to the park. The history part was very rewarding. The only thing is you folks need to advertize so that more people will know about this place.

Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: I do enjoy going to the camp usally just for trade days.We do also hike on the trails while we are there with our young son.So it is an exlent easy hike, at least or 3 year old loves it,and the train ride.They Have a small train that goes from the main camping area to the "trade Days " area.They have some deer in an enclosuer that is behind the blacksmith are, near the trade day area. It had been elsewhere.The deer in it are usally ither ones that had been injured in some way and rescued or born in the pen as far as I know.Saddly the restrant the other people were talking about has burnt down.For some reason they did not rebuild.At least they had not last time I was there,so I would call ahead to be sure.

Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Tannehill was beautiful we went there in October of 2002. Nice camping spaces best one we found was #309. Very informative and interesting landmarks. Didn't get to see many attractions as they were only open on 'trade days'. Will definetly go back, but we will make sure we have everything hard to get to wal mart from there. For an evening out to dinner go to the Slab House restaurant. Suggestions check your corn meal and candy before you eat it.

Filed By: Joe Shreve (Crowley, LA)
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Tannehill his a highly informative museum. I was there for the Alabama Forge Council conference in 2001. The weather was nice and cool even for the summer. planning to go back again this year.


More Information

Contact Information:
Tannehill Ironworks State Park, 12632 Confederate Pkwy , McCalla, AL, 35111, Phone: 205-477-5711

Additional Information:
Alabama State Parks - Alabama State Parks are excellent resources for all day activities such as picnicking and viewing historical sites.
North Alabama - North Alabama includes the northern third of the state, from Birmingham, north. This region offers waterfalls, fish-filled rivers and lakes, rapids suited for rafting and caves to explore.

Links:
Alabama State Parks - Alabama's offical state parks site

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