Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Natural Falls State Park, near West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma, is one of my favorite places in the South. The park is absolutely beautiful and the 77-foot waterfall from which it takes its name runs pretty much year round (more spectacularly in the winter and early spring, though).
The waterfall is one of the largest and easiest to access in the entire Oklahoma, Arkansas, Southern Missouri area. A paved trail leads from the parking lot down to two overlooks. The first, at the top of the falls, is wheelchair accessible. The second, at the bottom, requires a steep walk down into the picturesque ravine.
If you recognize this waterfall, there is a reason. It was used as a setting in the movie Where the Red Fern Grows.
To learn more about Natural Falls State Park and to see many additional photographs, please visit our Natural Falls pages at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/naturalfalls.html.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
A focal point of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County, Florida, the St. Marks Lighthouse has overlooked the waters of Apalachee Bay since 1832.
The tower itself is not open to the public, but visitors are welcome to explore the grounds which provide spectacular views of the lighthouse, the Gulf and the adjacent marshes.
At the time the St. Marks Lighthouse was constructed, St. Marks was an important port city. Florida's first chartered and second constructed railroad connected the port with the new capital city of Tallahassee. Mules originally pulled the cars, but eventually were replaced by locomotives. The lighthouse helped ships navigate their way across the bar and into the narrow channel of the lower St. Marks River.
The tower has survived numerous storms, including an 1840s hurricane that completely destroyed the nearby town of Port Leon. It also survived the Civil War. Confederate forces for a time used the lighthouse as an observation post and constructed a battery called Fort Williams on the grounds. The fort was later abandoned then destroyed by Union forces, who also burned the wooden parts of the lighthouse. No trace of the fort remains today, but the tower was repaired after the war and remains a silent sentinel over the Gulf of Mexico to this day.
In addition to its obvious historic and scenic appeal, the lighthouse is also noted for its annual gatherings of Monarch butterflies, which assemble here to begin their migration across the Gulf of Mexico.
For more information on the St. Marks Lighthouse, please visit our page at: