Old Cahawba offers wagon tour

Published 8:23 pm Saturday, February 28, 2015


The Selma Times-Journal

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park will host its Road to Freedom Wagon Tour on March 5 at 10 a.m. at the park near Orrville.

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The one-hour tour will cost $10 for adults and $8 for children. A second and third tour will be given at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m.

Some of the first African American residents of Old Cahawba will be the focus of the tour as the ride traces the inhabitant’s road from slavery through emancipation.

The ghost town was known as the mecca of the Radical Republican Party because it was the gathering point for all the newly freed slaves.

Site director Linda Derry said she wants others to embrace the heroes who fought for their civil rights after the Civil War and during Reconstruction, as they celebrate the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

“There were several very prominent African Americans that were enslaved at Cahawba, and as soon as they had their emancipations they became leaders in the church and in politics,” Derry said. “We want to tell their stories.”

The canopy-covered deluxe wagon will seat about 28 people, as they explore and learn more about the city’s history.

The wagon is complete with bench seating and four sturdy stairs and hand railings. The open-air ride will allow participants to catch a breeze, and if it rains participants will still be shielded.

In case of stormy weather, the tour will move inside, where people will still be afforded the opportunity to engage in the history of Cahawba’s residents. Derry said the wagon is similar to rides used at pumpkin patches.

In addition to the freedom wagon tour, the park will host its Bring Your Own Bike Tour on March 7 at 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The tour aims to encourage people to get out on their feet and cycle through the park, while taking a few notes on history.

“It’s really trying to encourage people to get out of their vehicles when they visit Cahawba, and just kind of slow down and explore the ruins at the park,” said assistant site director and bike tour guide Jonathan Matthews.

The park’s terrain is relatively flat and people don’t have to be expert bicyclists to enjoy the family-friendly event, Matthews said.

During the tour, attendants will visit the grounds of the ancient village and a Civil War prison, while learning how to read the park’s landscape.

“I think most people might have an old bicycle in their garages they haven’t used in years,” he said. “Here’s a chance to get a little exercise and get educated about an interesting part of Alabama’s history.”

For those who want to take their own bike tour, the park will offer free bikes and a map and interpretive brochure sponsored by the Strategic Alliance for Health program.

Another bike tour will be given again in October, if those interested can’t make the trip to the archaeological park.

For more information about the wagon and bike tours, contact the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park at (334) 872-8058.