Russell Cave National Monument Things to Do

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    visitor center
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  • russell cave
    russell cave
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  • russell cave upper level
    russell cave upper level
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Most Recent Things to Do in Russell Cave National Monument

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    russell cave

    by doug48 Updated Sep 12, 2009

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    pictured is the upper level of russell cave. this chamber was created by an ancient roof collapse. this collapse gave native americans additional living space and refuge when the lower cave flooded. when russell cave was excavated in 1954 hundreds of native american artifacts were found here.

    russell cave upper level
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    russell cave

    by doug48 Updated Sep 12, 2009

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    pictured is the lower level of the cave. there is a natural spring running through the cave which gave ancient native americans a constant supply of fresh water. the interior of the cave remains at a constant 58 degrees which offered excellent shelter duriing the winter. for thousands of years the hills and valleys of the area provided the inhabitants of russell cave with game for food and clothing.

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    picnic area

    by doug48 Written Sep 12, 2009

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    the russell cave national monument has a beautiful picnic area near the visitor center. it is located on a large meadow with nice views of the hills around russell cave. a nice place to frisbee or have a touch football game.

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    visitor center

    by doug48 Updated Sep 12, 2009

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    pictured is the russell cave national monument visitor center and museum. at the vistor center you can arrange a ranger guided tour of the cave or you can take a self guided tour. the visitor center has a small museum with native american artifacts found in and around the cave. admission is free.

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    Stream Flowing into Russell Cave

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Oct 14, 2004

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    The most striking natural feature of Russell Cave National Monument is the beautiful underground stream which flows into the left chamber of the cave. This stream emerges as a spring from beneath a huge rock rock only about 100 yards from the cave entrance. If flows through a large sinkhole and then back undergound via the mouth of the cave. A mist often hangs in the air at this spot, formed when the cool spring waters chill the warmer outside air. This year-round source of fresh water was no doubt one of the things which made this spot attractive to the early American Indians who lived here.

    The cavern has been found to be one of the more extensive cave systems in Alabama, with over 10 miles of currently known passageways. Entrance into cave passages, except on the walkways around the archeological exhibit, is allowed by permit only.

    Underground Stream Flowing into Russell Cave
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    Russell Cave Museum Exhibits

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 10, 2004

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    The exhibits in the small museum at the Visitors Center are definitely worth a close inspection. Of the thousands of southeast Archaic sites, this is one of the best preserved. The Archaic era, beginning at the tail end of the last ice age (about 8,000 B.C.) is when the basic foundation for American Indian culture was laid.

    Archeological evidence indicates that the earliest users of Russell Cave were actually at the transitional stage between Paleo and Archaic. During the Paleo period early man depended to a great extent on hunting large animals. In other words, people we usually think of as primitive "Cave Men" once inhabited this spot. Some regard it as the oldest house in America.

    Museum Exhibts: Hunting, Gathering, Fishing
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    A Refuge From the Elements

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 1, 2004

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    If we you had to live in a cave, it would be hard to find a better one than this. The mouth of Russell Cave faces east, away from the cold north wind but letting in the morning sun. It is cool in summer. Nearby is an excellent source of water, firewood, abundant game, and a good supply of rock for shaping into weapon points.

    Most groups using the cave would probably have numbered 15 to 30. They were likely extended families. Various styles of spear and arrow points tell archeologists that it was inhabited by different bands over the centuries. Twenty-four burials have been found in the cave, ranging from an infant to a 40/50- year old woman.

    The inhabitants of Russell cave used the abundant resources of the land around them. The wildlife they hunted, except for the porcupine and the peccary - are still found in the area today: deer, turkey, black bear, turtle, raccoon squirrel, and other small animals. They took fish from the nearby Tennessee River. Their staples were nuts, acorns, roots, wild fruits, and seeds. They also did some primitive gardening, raising goosefoot, a small flowering plant with edible seeds.

    Looking Out from Russell Cave
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    Exhibits Illustrate 9,000 Years of Human Activity

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 30, 2004

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    For hundreds of generations, Russell Cave has drawn American Indians. The artifacts they left behind tell the story of the cave. It is difficult to make generalizations about how the cave was used over so long a period of time. During the ebb and flow of habitation some users seem to have been year-round family groups while others were nomadic hunting parties.

    As archeologists dug down to the deepest artifacts, more than 30 feet below the cave's present floor, they traced the emergence of pottery more than 2,000 years ago, introduction of the bow and arrow, increasing sophistication of tools and weapons, and growing trade with other people for tools and ceremonial goods.

    Exhibit of Primitive Cave Life
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    Hiking in the Oak-Hickory Forest

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 29, 2004

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    Other than the boardwalk which leads to the cave, the only hiking opportunity in Russell Cave National Monument is a 1.2 mile loop trail through the oak-hickory forest above the cave. Parts of this trail are steep so we would classify it as moderate to strenuous. Points along the trail feature plants used for food, tools, and other everyday necessities by the cave's inhabitants.

    Hikers are advised to stay on the trail and not take shortcuts. On the mountainside there are hidden dropoffs, sinkholes, and other natural hazzards.

    Karen on the Hiking Trail
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    Russell Cave Boardwalk

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 29, 2004

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    From the Visitor Center a .6 mile wheelchair accessible boardwalk leads to Russell Cave. When available, a seasonal intrepreter will accompany you on your walk, as one did on our most recent visit. This is a beautiful, remote, rugged mountain area, only a couple of miles south of the Tennessee border, and nothing at all like the stereotypical visions many people have when they think of deep-south Alabama. Here you will discover a corner of Southern Appalachia which is unknown to many outsiders.

    Karen on the Boardwalk Approaching the Cave
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    Visitors Center

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 29, 2004

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    Any visit to Russell Cave National Monument should begin at the Visitors Center. Here you will find an information desk, exhibits, a book/gift shop, and a small theater. A variety of films about Russell Cave are available to be shown upon demand. They range in length from 8 minutes to one hour.

    Both the National Monument and the Visitors Center are open daily from 8 - 5, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Note that the Monument is in the Central Standard Time Zone, unlike nearby Chattanooga which follows Eastern Time.

    Admission is Free, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

    Russell Cave National Monument Visitors Center
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    hiking trail

    by doug48 Written Sep 12, 2009

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    near russell cave is a one and a half mile hiking trail up the hill above the cave. for those who enjoy nature and hiking this is a easy peaceful trail to take.

    entrance to the hiking trail
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