Monday, October 10, 2016

Hurricane Creek Park

When I lived in Cullman, Alabama, in 1988 I became friends with Buddy Rodgers who owned Hurricane Creek Park north of town. It was a fascinating multi-level nature center and walking trail that crossed a big creek at the bottom of a deep canyon and featured caves, cliffs, and a swinging rope bridge, plus an inclined railway to get you back to the top of the ravine if you didn't want to hike the trails in reverse.

I drew a map of the trails in the park and painted a large version of it on a billboard at the park entrance so people would know what they were getting themselves into before striking off into the ravine. 

Rodgers had bought the park acreage after flying over it in his military jet one day and seeing the remarkable geological features of the ravine, the creek, and the Hwy. 31 bridge crossing it. The park opened in 1961. It is a 67-acre park built into the slopes of a 500-foot gorge and features a variety of rock formations. 

He built a visitors center, a ticket booth (out of an old bank drive up window he bought at an auction) and numerous picnic tables. Building the swinging bridge over the creek was an engineering marvel. The creek itself was dammed at one point to create a small pond near the picnic area. 

CLICK HERE for a Google Maps view of the park location. 

After Rodgers passed on, the city acquired the property and turned it into a fine recreational wilderness area, with rock climbing facilities and other attractions. 

I lived in back of the visitor's center for a few months, walking the trails in the evening to pick up trash, and doing what I could in my spare time from my newspaper job to help him with the park. That ended abruptly when a big chunk of the cliff above the visitors center broke off, rolled down the hill, and crashed through the wall of the bathroom. Fortunately, I wasn't home at the time. 

Here's the map:

Buddy Rodgers died in 2008, leaving a legacy that will live for years to come. For more information on the park, CLICK HERE