A River Runs Through It H
Thanks to abundant natural beauty and a long, colorful history, residents are proud to call Wetumpka and Elmore County home and thrilled to share their slice of Central Alabama with visitors. Just as the Coosa River winds its way through Elmore County, blessing the area with its beauty and options for fishing, boating and swimming, so too is a rich heritage woven into the picturesque landscape. The history of Native Americans, French and British settlers, Civil War soldiers, enterprising visionaries, hard-working farmers and more merge together to form a multi-layered mix of stories and scenes, legends and legacies. Today, the independent spirit that drove this region forward is still present and combines with sincere hospitality to make Elmore County, the fourth fastest growing county in the state, a pleasant, prosperous place to live or visit. What A Blast! On any given night in Alabama, you might get lucky and glimpse a meteor as it streaks across the Southern sky. But 83 million years ago, a giant meteor did much more than leave
a glowing trail in the dark. It struck the earth in Wetumpka, blasting through bedrock to leave an Impact Crater that is still clearly visible today. It is the only confirmed meteorite crater in the state and is considered one of the best preserved in the world. While Wetumpka seems young in comparison to the crater, it celebrated its 175th birthday in 2010, and as the county seat, the city serves as a focal point for all of the historical and outdoor attractions that define Elmore County, which also includes Millbrook, Tallassee and Eclectic. History & Heritage Abound The recurring arches of the Bibb Graves Bridge greet visitors
to Wetumpka. This unique, prominent landmark was completed in 1931 and is one of only two such structures in Alabama. In the city’s heart, its charming downtown, guests can stroll to quaint shops, restaurants and historic homes and churches following a self-guided walking tour. Downtown recently received a “freshening up” that preserved its architectural character while bringing its capabilities into the modern age. One can’t-miss stop on the walking tour is the Elmore County Museum. It provides a peek into the past with informative exhibits and local artifacts from the Civil War and other historical events. Just south of Wetumpka, over 6,000 years of the area’s history are uncovered among the 165 acres of Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park State Historical Site, located where the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers meet. Here, visitors can explore both French and American Forts, a Mississippian Mound site, wildflower fields and forests on the William Bartram Nature Trail, the museum and Graves House filled with archeological artifacts, and even get a tangible taste of yesterday’s traditions at the living history weekends held once a month. It’s Only Natural Pride in its past may be prevalent in Elmore County, but it never overshadows the progress of the present, including the
Who Knew? Wetumpka’s idyllic charm has captured Hollywood’s eye three times. Its picturesque downtown area served as part of the setting for the movies “The Grass Harp” (1995), “The Rosa Parks Story” (2002) and “Big Fish” (2003). Just east of downtown lies an almost five-mile-wide meteorite crater which is the result of an 83 million-year-old meteorite impact. It is the only confirmed meteor crater in Alabama and is one of the best preserved in the world. The meteorite is estimated to have been 1,000 feet in diameter.
location’s close ties to Mother Nature. Wetumpka is appropriately known as the “city of natural beauty,” but in truth, the phrase could easily apply to all of Elmore County. The region is known for its scenic spots, many centered around the Coosa River. The Coosa’s importance to the area was first noted by the Native Americans who gave Wetumpka its name, which means “rumbling waters.” The river is the perfect place for fishing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking and is joined by the Tallapoosa River just below Wetumpka to form the Alabama River. Close proximity to two of central Alabama’s sparkling lakes, Lake Jordan and mammoth Lake Martin, is also a plus. Mountain biking or hiking through the 12 miles of forest hills and dales on the nationally known Swayback Bridge Trail are other popular pastimes that draw many outdoor enthusiasts to Elmore County. “Our lakes, rivers and beautiful land provide great recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors,” said Jan Wood, Executive Director of the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce.
Elmore County Museum
Blooming Beauty Tucked at the bottom of the Appalachian foothills, Elmore County boasts a mild climate that fosters a diverse array of plant life, and nowhere is this on finer display than at Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum. With 20 acres of bountiful blossoms and classical Old World ambiance, the gardens put on a fabulous floral show all year, along with an impressive collection of statuary representing the art and ideals of ancient Greece. Playing Around
Attack on Swayback Mountain Bike Race
Thanks to The Wetumpka Depot Players, community theatre is a thriving part of the social and arts scene in the county seat. Adding culture to the area’s appeal, the Depot Players produce a variety of original plays, beloved Broadway shows, hilarious comedies and poignant dramas each year. Audiences enjoy them all in an intimate, 160-seat theatre in Wetumpka that was once an old grocery store, which the Depot Players bought and converted in 1999. Event-Full Elmore County moves at a more relaxed pace, but there is no shortage of things going on. Favorite annual events include The Coosa River Challenge, which incorporates river paddling, biking and trail running into a true test of will and strength, The Coosa River Whitewater Festival, Riverfest Festival and Christmas on the Coosa as well as Frontier Days and the French and Indian Encampment, both held at Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park. Beautiful Places & Friendly Faces Despite the multitude of attractions and opportunities for outdoor fun, it is perhaps Elmore County’s people that are her biggest asset. Their easy smiles and warm handshakes welcome
Gold Star Park
visitors and newcomers from all over the world to experience the laid-back good life that they enjoy. “Elmore County still retains its small-town values. It is family friendly, relaxed and close-knit,” Wood said. “And there is a real sense of community and a genuine neighborly atmosphere. Yet we are still close to all of the conveniences and amenities of larger cities nearby, like Montgomery and Birmingham. We keep growing as more and more people discover this.”
As published in The Montgomery & River Region Visitor Guide 2011