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Author Topic: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.  (Read 2741 times)

Offline jrobinson

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Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« on: February 26, 2011, 09:00:10 AM »
Depending on the weather, I'm going to ride to Valhermoso Springs in Morgan Co Sunday.

Ditto Landing/Whitesburg - Trading Post - On Tenn river just south of Huntsville

Valhermoso Springs - Spa and resort area in 1800's - Hwy 36

Somerville - First courthouse in Morgan Co.

Let me know if you want to ride tomorrow.

Offline SlowRoad

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2011, 09:22:24 AM »
Definitely interested. That's in my back yard, kinda!!  Post times and I will try to meet up with you either at Ditto or Valhermosa Springs.

Tim
"The thing I like most about BR is you never meet strangers just new friends."      Smiley

1997 Honda Valkyrie
1998 Kawasaki KLR650
1981 Kawasaki KZ1100 project
1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin project in waiting

Offline jrobinson

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2011, 09:55:31 AM »
Ditto Landing at 10:00am Sunday Feb 27th. There is a picnic area on the North side of the marina. That's where I'll be.

Offline SlowRoad

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2011, 10:18:41 AM »
If nothing changes, will see you there. Will let you know if it does change.
"The thing I like most about BR is you never meet strangers just new friends."      Smiley

1997 Honda Valkyrie
1998 Kawasaki KLR650
1981 Kawasaki KZ1100 project
1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin project in waiting

Offline jrobinson

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 05:04:32 PM »
back home, report later tonight.

Offline SlowRoad

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 05:14:36 PM »
It was great meeting you and Sandy.

Scott, it was good to see you again too.

I enjoyed spending the day riding and exploring these places with y'all.
"The thing I like most about BR is you never meet strangers just new friends."      Smiley

1997 Honda Valkyrie
1998 Kawasaki KLR650
1981 Kawasaki KZ1100 project
1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin project in waiting

Offline A B Normal

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 05:16:09 PM »
Wish I had seen this.  It was a great day to ride.  Hope y'all had good roads.
I want to go out the same way I came in.  Screaming and kicking.

Offline jrobinson

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 09:42:28 PM »
What a great ride we had today! Tim (Slowroad), Scott (The lizard trainer), Sandy and me meet at Ditto Landing this morning.


Sandy draws a crowd...



Ditto Landing (Whitesburg) - Situated on the north bank of the Tenn River, this early Madison County river landing was 10 miles south of Huntsville, approximately where US Hwy 231 crosses the river today.



John Ditto , a Pennsylvanian was possibly the first white man to reside in what is today Madison Co.  He operated an Indian trading station long before the settlers came into the region.  He established the first landing used by the pioneers between Chattanooga and Colbert's Ferry.

IN 1820, John Hardie operated a store at Ditto's Landing where he received and distributed goods for the firm of Read and White. Col. James White, who owned an ironworks and a salt firm in East Tenn, shipped his products to Hardie by way of the river. Hardie wrote to his brother on May 8, 1820...from this place all the cotton made in this [Madison Co]is shipped to New Orleans in flat bottomed boats each conveying from 250 to 350 bales; the whole quantity sent from here will consist of from 15 to 17,000 bales each weigh about 300lbs.  By the summer of 1825, Ditto's Landing had been renamed to Whitesburg in honor of Col White.  --  Dead Towns of Alabama

The bridges in the above photo is called Whitesburg Bridge. Whitesburg Drive runs from 213 and Weatherly Dr, north to near the downtown area. Whitesburg Dr was the main N-S road though Huntsville until the Memorial Pkwy (US 213) was built to "bypass" Huntsville.

Historic Marker at Ditto's Landing...





Kickstands up...


Valhermoso Springs - This once famous resort town was situated on Hwy 36 in northeastern Morgan Co, approximately 20 miles northeast of Hartselle and 12 miles south of Huntsville. These mineral springs were probalby discovered by Lancelot Chunn sometime after 1810. They were referred to as Chunn Springs by early pioneers. Between 1818 and 1823, a hotel was erected on the site, which was known as the  White Sulphur Springs Hotel. In May, 1834, a post office was established, but is was closed in June, 1835.

Jean Joseph Giers, a native of Germany, acquired the site in 1856 and renamed it Valhermoso Springs, meaning"Vale of Beauty". He purchased the 1200 acres for only a dollar an acre and became postmaster when the post office was reestablished in 1857. Gier's Cedar Hotel was a three-story building surrounded by a number of cottages. Ernst Giers, the son of the owner, acquired the property when his father died  on Dec. 16, 1880, and operated it until 1920. A tornado, followed by a fire, destroyed the building in 1950, and today the area is only a rural community. -- Dead Towns of Alabama

Historical Marker







Ahh a nice wide path to....



We headed down the path, Scott and I decided to walk along the edge of the creek, Sandy and Tim stayed on the path.



the path lead away from the creek, Scott and I came to this area that looked like it could be the spring area...



After the 400 yd trek, we decided to go up the bank and walk back in the open area. We spotted a spring/cave near the top of the gorge...



Dang slacker...





Kickstands up...

We head to find some food and decide on Jacks near Hwy 36 and Hwy 67. After eating we had to the bikes. There's a guy looking at the bikes and we find out he has a bike. I hand him a BR card and Tim ask him about our next stop in Somerville. I explain what we are doing and tell him about our last stop. According to him, there were 7 springs in the area that had 7 different tastes.

We talk about the first Morgan Co courthouse in Somerville. He corrects us and says, it is actually the second courthouse, the first is gone.


Kickstands up...

Somerville -

First county seat and courthouse for Morgan Co. The county seat is now in Decatur.



Second Marker at Courthouse.



The Courthouse...




All photos from the ride today.


Offline wweaver11

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2011, 10:25:32 PM »
Sounds like y'all had a great adventure.

Offline SlowRoad

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 08:31:28 PM »
It was a good day. I crapped out after going down to the water close to the bridge at Valhermosa Springs and coming back up the pretty steep gorge.  I did get a few pics while in the bottom of the gorge though.  In the area where Johnny and I went down, there was no water...



We were getting a little discouraged, but kept following the stream bed and finally came upon the main stream. Just a few yards from the creek, there was a spring pouring water into the feeder and finally into the main channel of the creek...





There were several shelves of rock overhanging the creek and some looked as if there might be caves off them, but none of us wanted to know bad enough to try crawling into any of them...







It was a long way down into the gorge to get to the water for an out of shape fat man who still hasn't gotten all his strength back from surgery a couple weeks ago. By the time Johnny and I got back to the top next to the bridge, my legs were like noodles.  You can see it was a fairly steep climb back out...



This is when Scott and Johnny decided to go back down to the water and follow the creek back to the spa sight as per these directions...



  I was afraid that if I went back down, I wouldn't get back up without a tow truck, so I decided to follow the trail back into the woods and see if it lead anywhere.  As I walked further into the woods, I hear a female voice shout out, "I've been trying to call y'all from the phone here!!"  It was Sandy sitting on a log with an old rotary phone that she had found next to the trail. She was waiting to see if any of us were going to come down the trail or had given up.  We walked back out to the bikes and waited for the others to get back...



This marker shows that there were some pretty famous people that used the resort at Valhermosa Springs during it's operation...




I don't know that I have ever seen a historic marker in this good of shape. We had commented that it looked brand new.  As it turned out, while talking to the fellow at Jacks, the previous marker had been stolen and this new marker had just been installed...



It's amazing just how much history there is right in your back yard and you never know about it. I never knew of the resort at Valhermosa Springs and have lived within 20 miles of it most of my life.  I also never knew about the history of the court house in Somerville.  It was a very cool building as you saw in JR's photos.  There were some pretty cool features to this building, like the drip plates made from stone and chiseled out to direct the runnoff water away from the corners of the building...



There was one of these at each corner of the building.  Also, there was some history surrounding the flag pole in front of the court house as these plaques indicate...





I liked the architecture of the building too. The pergola on the roof was pretty cool...



As were the real shutters with wrought iron hardware...





There were 2 markers in front of the courthouse. One was about the actual court house building and Morgan County...



The other about the town of Somerville and it's history in the county...



Just another shot of the building...



A cool looking house just down the street from the court house...




This was my first Ghost Town tour, but not my last. This could be addictive. Already making some plans for some more sites to check out. I will post plans when I get them together and a date planned. 

Thanks again JR for posting this up, letting me tag along and putting up with my slow butt climbing around in the gorge!!!   8)
"The thing I like most about BR is you never meet strangers just new friends."      Smiley

1997 Honda Valkyrie
1998 Kawasaki KLR650
1981 Kawasaki KZ1100 project
1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin project in waiting

Offline dredman

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 09:07:02 PM »
Quote
This could be addictive.

Man, tell me about it.

I had to actually WORK most of the day today - and I just wanted to slip out for a couple of hours to go find another one.

I am hoping folks dont catch on to how much fun this is so I can get a few more towns ( I think there may be only like 300 or so left )

Offline SlowRoad

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Re: Valhermoso Springs/Somerville, Morgan Co.
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 09:16:44 PM »
I am hoping folks dont catch on to how much fun this is so I can get a few more towns ( I think there may be only like 300 or so left )

 :-*
"The thing I like most about BR is you never meet strangers just new friends."      Smiley

1997 Honda Valkyrie
1998 Kawasaki KLR650
1981 Kawasaki KZ1100 project
1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin project in waiting

Offline A B Normal

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  • Burgman 650
Re: Valhermoso Springs Redux
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2011, 06:51:22 PM »
I should have checked before heading down there earlier this afternoon.  Took a lot of the same pics.   :)

A few pics anyway.

Old health resort located on SH 36, 20 miles northeast of Hartselle, 12 miles south of Huntsville. Some population remains.  The hotel was built in 1818 and opened in 1823.  A short-lived post office operated from May 1834 to Jun 1835.  The property sold in 1856 and the new proprietor renamed it from Chunn Springs to Valhermoso Springs.  The three-story hotel reopened and operated until 1920.  It burned in 1950 after being damaged by a tornado.

 

·        SE¼ Sec 24, T6S, R2W, Huntsville Meridian

·        Latitude: 34.5012035 / 34° 30’ 04” N

·        Longitude: -86.6858295 / 86° 41’ 09” W





And "your moment of zen."

https://picasaweb.google.com/117409819350054515312/ValhermosaAL#5583354833764484050
I want to go out the same way I came in.  Screaming and kicking.