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Russell Cave National Monument

Russell Cave National Monument in the hill country of northern Alabama contains one of the richest archaeological deposits in the United States, representing more than 9,000 years of continuous use.

Rusell Cave National Monument
©National Park Service
Russell Cave National Monument is located in the hill country of
northern Alabama.

The first nomadic bands of Native Americans arrived at Russell Cave long before the rise of the first true civilizations in Egypt and the Near East. They brought with them chipped flint points for their hunting spears, which were later found 12 feet below the present floor of the cave. This ready-made dwelling allowed them to concentrate on finding food rather than shelter.

For thousands of years, charcoal from their fires, animal bones, tools, weapons, and broken pottery piled up in the entrance of the cave. The layers of artifacts were first discovered in the 1950s, and the site was declared a national monument in 1961. A slide program on the fascinating history of the cave and its various excavations is shown at the cave entrance.

The visitor center museum has a sampling of the treasure-trove of artifacts unearthed at Russell Cave, including spearheads, fishhooks, pottery, and shell jewelry. Rangers use atlatls (sticks used for launching spears), grind corn, crack walnuts, make stone tools, and cut leather thongs, demonstrating the daily life and work of the prehistoric people of Russell Cave. Nature and hiking trails let visitors explore the more than 300-acre monument on the side of Montague Mountain.

Russell Cave National Monument Information

Address: 3729 County Road 98, Bridgeport, AL
Telephone: 256/495-2672
Hours of Operation: Open daily 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Admission: Free

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Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.