Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waterfalls of Alabama - History and Scenic Views

Waterfalls probably do not usually come to mind when many people think of Alabama, but the state is actually home to a surprisingly large number of beautiful falls and cascades.

Formed where streams and rivers flow over bluffs or steep hillsides as they make their way down through the state and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico, these stunning natural features have long played an important role in the history of Alabama.

Early Native Americans, for example, frequented the waterfalls. At DeSoto Falls near Fort Payne and Mentone, for example, there are even the remains of unusual manmade caves in the walls of the steep bluff surrounding the huge waterfall. It is generally thought that these were carved out by prehistoric Indians, although some believe they were left behind by Prince Madoc, a Welsh explorer who true believers think reached the New World hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus.

As time passed and the American frontier pushed west, early settlers made use of the strong currents of the falls. At Little River Falls, for example, a water-powered mill once stood. Residents used it to both grind grain and saw the old growth trees of the state into lumber for building homes and businesses.

Today, the waterfalls provide enjoyment for visitors from around the world. Some, like Noccalula Falls in Gadsden and Little River Falls near Mentone are easy to reach and offer paved paths and fenced overlooks. Others, like those around Cheaha State Park in the mountains of the Talladega National Forest, require a hike into the forest but are beautifully preserved in their natural state.

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