Crossing 2,140 acres, Monte Sano Mountain is definitely a bucket list item for anyone visiting or living in Huntsville. While you may have already hiked one of the park’s many trails or browsed the annual art festival, did you know Monte Sano has a rich history?
We’ve compiled some of our favorite facts about Monte Sano that you should know before you make the next drive up the mountain.
1. Monte Sano translates to “mountain of health”
In the late 1800s, visitors would come from across the country to see the mesmerizing views and fresh mineral springs. People believed the mountain’s clean air and peaceful environment had therapeutic qualities, thus granting it the name “Monte Sano,” which means “mountain of health” in Spanish.
2. Many trails + structures were built during the Great Depression
The Historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the trails, stone walls and structures that are still in use today at Monte Sano State Park. They built the Monte Sano Lodge, which burned down in 1947 and completed reconstruction in 2004 — since then, it has been used for weddings, reunions and business meetings.
Additionally, 11 of the 14 rustic cabins you can find on the side of the mountain were built by the CCC.
3. The mountain has abundant wildlife
Monte Sano Mountain is home to a wide variety of deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels and numerous bird species. It’s a popular spot for birdwatchers throughout the year — check out recent bird sightings here.
4. History of the Three Caves area
On the southeastern side of the mountain, you’ll find the Three Caves area, a collection of large natural rock shelters. Starting in 1945 and for the next seven years, the area was used as a site for limestone mining — the harvested material paved several of Huntsville’s roads and parking lots.
After the quarry closed in 1952, due to high costs and the growth of the mine, the site remained unused until it was designated as a fallout shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since then, it’s been used as a filming location for two movies — “The Ravagers (1978)” and “What Waits Below (1984)” — and a music video by Kansas. The area is now used as a venue for concerts and other social events.
If the history of Monte Sano Mountain has piqued your interest at all, it’s definitely worth the visit. Check out the links below for more information on the park, fees and more.