Bear Meat Cabin Road

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Bear Meat Cabin Road was part of the Great Tennessee Trail, an early Native American trail in north Alabama. It connected Ditto's Landing on the Tennessee River (Huntsville) to Old Town, at the falls of the Warrior River (Tuscaloosa) via Bear Meat Cabin (Blountsville), and Mud Town on the Cahaba River.

The original trail was named for a junction in Blount County on Towne Creek, the home of Chief Bear Meat, now within the city limits of Blountsville. A portion of the historic trail is accessible in Blountsville Historical Park. At Village Springs just north of Pinson the trail entered Jones Valley. A track blazed by John Jones and his brother-in-law Caleb Friley gave access to Roebuck, Elyton, Carrollton, Jonesboro, and McMath's Spring. The main route went through Center Point, Huffman, Roebuck, and crossed the Georgia Road at Red Gap, near Irondale, and went down Montevallo Road to near Mountain Brook Village, and continued south to Mud Town, a name given by settlers to an earlier Indian village on the Cahaba, now within the bounds of the Altadena Country Club. Both routes proceeded west, continuing toward Tuscaloosa. The segment of the route to Mudtown from Pinson followed along the present Alabama Highway 75.

The road, was surveyed, extended southward to Washington County, and improved as St Stephens Huntsville Road, or just Huntsville Road, a federal trade route, in 1818. Also called the Tennessee Pike or Hunstville Pike, it was recognized as a Federal Post Road in 1822, serving as the primary overland route for stage coaches between Cincinnati, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana. Different operators were chartered by the State of Alabama to operate coaches on specific sections of the road. Phillip Clack held the charter for what was called "Clack's Turnpike" in Marshall County.

From Hurricane Creek to the city of Tuscaloosa, a distance of about 16 miles, the road was improved as the Tuscaloosa Plank Road in the 1850s.

The route regained importance with the completion of the Tennessee River Bridge at Whitesburg in 1929. In the 1940s the section through north Alabama was made part of the Florida Short Route. It was paved by the middle of that decade and designated U. S. Highway 231 or the "Heart of Dixie Highway". The portion entering Jefferson County follows the present route of Alabama State Highway 75 and Alabama State Highway 79. The portion of the road from Elyton follows Jefferson Avenue through Powderly, Midfield, and Brighton, where it appears as Huntsville Avenue. The portion from Tuscaloosa to St. Stephens primarily follows Alabama State Highway 69.

Jones and Friley's detour through Birmingham remains visible as Huntsville Road/F. L. Shuttlesworth Drive through North Birmingham and over the Flint Ridge east of Oak Hill Cemetery before turning southwest, continuing as Graymont Avenue and Pike Road/Valley Road through Brighton Gap toward McCalla at Roupes Valley.

A historical marker for Bear Meat Cabin Road was erected by the City of Arab at North Main Street and North Brindlee Mountain Parkway.

References

  • Brown, Virginia Pounds and Jane Porter Nabers, eds. (1970) Mary Gordon Duffee's Sketches of Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press ISBN 081735011X