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Russell Cave National Monument

Russel Cave in Bridgeport, Alabama

Russell Cave national monument is located in Bridgeport, Alabama. Russell Cave National Monument is open since 1961 and is adopted by a decree signed by President John F. Kennedy.

Three hundred and ten acres were donated by the National Geographic Society because of the exceptional historical and archaeological value of this place.

The entrance to the Russell Cave national monument was used by prehistoric people for shelter, some ten thousand years ago. This place had all the amenities that could afford the people of that distant era much comfort.

The wind was unable to enter the cave and inside it is maintained a high enough temperature to allow people to inhabit the place. In summer the cave served as refuge from the heat because it was pleasantly cool. The rock in which cave Russell is carved, was formed more than three hundred million years ago, at the bottom of the sea, which at that time covered the whole area. After the sea retreated, the water seeped through the limestone formations and thus formed a huge amount of caves and tunnels.

The cave has two entrances. The collapse of part of the ceiling of the cave on the right side made it more comfortable for human habitation. Unfortunately, landslides and floods have carried away a large part of what could serve as evidence of people's lives, who lived in the caves thousands of years ago. Near the entrance of the cave is a stream that thousands of years ago had supplied fresh water to its inhabitants. It enters the cave and after passing mile and a half, flows into the Widow's Creek and the Tennessee River.

Many plants that grow around the cave were useful for people who ate them and of their branches made their instruments. They gathered nuts, digging roots and for sweets gathered different kinds of wild fruits. There was enough vegetation so that the inhabitants of the cave even dyed their stocks for the winter, which was used to maintain good health for everyone in the family in the colder months.

Russel Cave National Monument

Prehistoric people ate the animal species that inhabit the area, but from their bones made tools for different uses. With lime stone rocks they made their hunting weapons. They hunted animals that inhabit the region today - deer, turkeys, bears, squirrels, raccoons and turtles. Archaeologists found evidence here for the occupation of the cave from different cultures - paleo, woodland and Mississippian cultures. Most likely, American Indians lived there for at least two thousand years.

But then a new collapse of the ceiling of the cave floor raised its level to such an extent that the stream which flows into it, made it uninhabitable. Thousands of years before Europeans arrived in this place in the sixteenth century, the cave was used mainly for a place where hunters hid from bad weather and slept.

On the territory of the cave were found buried remains of twenty-four people, including children and women of fifty years. The remains show that people who lived in the cave were of low stature and had rather developed muscles. The caves were discovered and also testified for the creation of pottery made about two thousand years ago, and also bows and arrows were found.



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