Ruffner Mountain

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Ruffner Mountain is a section of the Red Mountain ridge that runs from Red Gap at Gate City to the northeast, through Irondale.

It was named for Virginia geologist William Henry Ruffner who surveyed the mineral resources of the ridge as part of his work for the Georgia Southern Railroad in 1882. The highest point on Ruffner Mountain is a knob roughly aligned with 85th Street South which is at 1,248 feet above seal level. Another high spot to the southwest, at 1,246 feet and accessible by an unpaved service road, is used as a platform for communication towers. An isolated knob at the southwestern end of the Ruffner's ridge, dubbed Sloss Peak, reaches to 1,104 feet above sea level and overlooks downtown Birmingham.

The mountain was intensively mined and quarried by the Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Company until the early 1950s. In 1941 the Civilian Conservation Corps erected the Wharton Lookout Tower, a fire tower, on the part of the ridge that is currently the highest point inside the Birmingham city limits. Other industrial companies and public utilities have also maintained facilities on the mountain, including Alagasco and Southern Packaging, which stored mining explosives in former mine structures in the area. One storehouse caught fire, causing a massive explosion that damaged homes and businesses in Roebuck on July 25, 1971

Developmental pressures spurred area residents to organize and secure the preservation of the ridge as the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve in 1977. The preserve now encompasses 1,040 acres of forest, which it manages for recreation, environmental education and wildlife conservation.