History of Hurricane Creek
Hurricane Creek has been the backbone and the mainstay for the early development of the City of Tuscaloosa, Cottondale, Brookwood, Peterson and Holt. Lumber necessary for the building of Tuscaloosa and its surrounding communities was milled at the many old sawmills located along the banks of the creek. Many of these old ruins still exist today and can be seen while paddling along the creek. Some of the mills employed innovative techniques of multipurpose mills. It was on Hurricane Creek that Oliver Keene invented the first turbine run mill that was capable of running a large sawmill and gristmill from the same wheel. He sold the patent to the U.S. government for a few hundred dollars and land rights from the mill all the way to the Black Warrior River at Holt. It was Oliver Keene that is credited with the beginning of coal mining along the creek. Several of the old mines are still seen along the creek today. The Abandoned Mine Land program has sealed some, while there is literally hundreds of openings left to be identified and sealed where possible.
Before the invasion of white settlers to the area, there were many Native American villages located within the hills and valleys of a stream brimming with fish and wildlife needed to sustain the people for centuries before the invasion of the Spanish and French.
We know of at least two burial grounds here that need to be cataloged and set aside for protection. I have personally found and identified several sites along the creek such as the Temple Cave and Robinson Spring Cave.
Both were destroyed due to coal strip mining even after being listed as eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places by Hunter Johnson, licensed archaeologist working for the University of Alabama at Moundville. These and future sites found deserve more respect than this. It will be one of our goals to find and catalog as many of these sacred places as possible before they are gone.
One of the main reasons that people have flourished here for so long is the availability of medicinal plants to use for healing. There is a huge population of these plants here that need to be cataloged and researched for possible cures for modern ailments as well.
Dr. Edward O. Wilson, two time Pulitzer Prize winner and Curator of Entomology at Harvard University, was a student at the University of Alabama back in the 50’s where he did his Undergraduate research on Hurricane Creek. He recently returned for dinner and reception honoring him for his lifetime of achievements. During his visit he was asked where he would like to go for an outdoor interview. His response was without hesitation “Hurricane Creek”
(Can be found on Youtube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K_yzbHn3kA )
During his visit I had the privilege of hosting him at Stroker Point where he had done so much research long ago. He even found and identified a new species of ant he named Leptothorax tuscaloosae. As far as we know this is the only place on earth where it is found.
It was during this visit that he was quoted as saying “In order to find a mixing zone with as rich and plentiful a bio-diversity in the temperate zone, you would have to travel all the way around the world to the Tibetan Plateau” That is quite a powerful statement coming from a man who has actually been all around the world studying bio-diversity.