These columns are the ruins of the R. C. Crocheron home, built in 1843. The house overlooked the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers until fire destroyed it in 1920. (Photos courtesy of the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park)
by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs
9/7/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Editor's Note- This is part one of a three part series.
Bike riders, a new addition to your riding trail list is now open.
Cahawba recently opened a five-mile bike trail rolling through the historic city. Carved out of the wilderness in 1819 to be the state capitol, Cahawba boomed before the state switched gears making Tuscaloosa the capitol in 1826.
"After the Civil War, the town seemed to disappear," said Linda Derry, site director. "It is like a ghost town...there are a lot of ruins and relics."
Historic buildings and monuments are mostly hidden memories as many Alabama travelers have erased Cahawba from their destination list. The bike trail is a way to bring Alabamians back to their roots.
"Having bikes will get them out of their cars and give them a chance to explore the history here," said Derry. "Hiking and biking are the best ways to see Old Cahawba."
Ideal for biking, the trail is mostly flat and smooth surfaced. This is a welcome alternative to many rolling-hill biking options that enthusiasts enjoy in the surrounding area.
"The trail is overlaid on the historic city streets," explained Jonathan Matthews, assistant site director. "They will be able to pass by some of our standing structures scattered around the city."
There is a fleet of bikes available for those who want to experience the two-wheeled rolling tour of Cahawba. Those who wish to borrow bikes need to call the park and reserve them the day before, and they are available on first come, first served basis. Bringing a set of wheels is encouraged.
"Bikes may be picked up from the park visitor center, which is open from noon until 5 p.m., seven days a week," explained Derry. "But if people want to bike during the morning, they can call a day or so ahead and we can have a staff member meet them to facilitate an earlier bike checkout time."
"Cahawba's new bike trail is a great opportunity for Maxwell personnel to change up their physical training," said David Gates, sports program director for Maxwell. "Biking is a great way to stay healthy, and Cahawba is an interesting city to visit. Enjoying both not too far from the Maxwell community is a great opportunity."