The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, near the town of Birmingham, is one of the most fascinating attractions in the entire south.
It is located just off of Interstate 59 and is 12 miles southwest of the town of Bessemer, near Birmingham.
If you are on I-59/20, you would take exit 100 and follow the signs for 2 miles.
However, before you plan this as one of your Birmingham day trips, you need to make sure that you have good hiking shoes.
The reason for this is simple, the size of this attraction.
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park has more than 1,500 acres and actually covers three different Alabama counties.
This entire property is set aside for hiking, comping, and other outdoors activities.
The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park basically has a life of its own, as the owners of the craft shops occupy restored pioneer cabins, and artisans of their various trades chat with visitors from their front porch.
From spring through the fall of each year, the blacksmith of the village, as well as the miller and craftsmen demonstrate their trades.
A miniature railroad also can be seen chugging through the pines to add even more ambiance.
With all of these variance activities, the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park almost seems like you have gone back into time.
The cotton gin, the pioneer farm, and the working gristmill preserve a long-gone way of life in this charming southern background.
All of these facts make it one of the best of the Birmingham day trips for the entire family.
Artifacts and other historical items of this 19th century Iron and Steel Museum put into perspective the main center piece of the park, the furnaces.
The massive stone furnaces, when you see them for the first time, are almost overwhelming they are so big.
It puts into perspective because the used to refer to Birmingham as the “Magic City”.
The entire setting is so well put together, that again it makes this regional and active center focusing on 19th century iron making spring to life.
The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is now almost 40 years old, as it was first built in 198, just 12 miles south of Bessemer.
The museum as a whole is an extensive and almost massive collection of both machines and well as artifacts relating to the Civil war.
Some of the artifacts also run up all if the way to the early 1960’s.
This is also the site of what is referred to as the “Walter B. Jones” Center of Industrial Archaeology.
It is also within walking distance of the actual Tannehill Ironworks, which was once the major producer of Confederate iron.
However, all of that came to an end when it was burned to the ground during Wilson’s Raid, on March 31, 1865.
The furnaces that are located at the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park are considered to be some of the best preserved in the south.
They are linked to the museum by the hiking trails, and this attraction, part of the Civil War Discovery trail, attracts close 500,000 visitors a year.
This entire project was launched so it would both document as well as preserve the original Tannehill site.
The main reason for this was simple; it was the birthplace of the Birmingham iron industry.
The site today is listed as an American Society for Metals International Landmark and is home for the Alabama Forge Council.
With the assistance of the University of Alabama College of Education, the museum staff provides daily tours.
With the help of an Industrial Archaeologist, these tours offer educational programs for thousands of children through the Tannehill Learning Center.
The historic furnaces at the main museum building are massive in nature.
They include over 13,000 square feet of exhibit space and a reconstructed machine shop from the 1870’s.
It also includes four steam engines from the time span that includes an 1835 Dotterer engine.
Other exhibits include very large collection of Confederate artillery shells that were built at the Selma navy Gun Foundry.
There are also exhibits from the CSS Alabama, rifles from both the Union and Confederate armies, and a large distillation kettle.
The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is one of the best of the Birmingham day trips for both you and your family.
It is definitely something that you most likely have never seen before, and it is both extremely interesting and educational.
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