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Camp Jack Wright
Greater Alabama Council
CAMP JACK WRIGHT
Camp Jack Wright is owned and operated by the Greater Alabama Council. It is located in the Roupes Valley, adjacent to Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park. The valley is in the Alabama natural region known as the Ridge and Valley province. This section of the state is the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. Camp Jack Wright’s hallmark is its rugged natural beauty. The camp is nestled in and on several sandstone ridges dominated by a forest of Chestnut Oak, White Oak, Black Oak, Southern Red Oak, Hickory species and a few assorted Pines. Wildlife is plentiful, including deer and turkey. All of this combined with the area’s abundant history, make Camp Jack Wright a great location for traditional Boy Scout camping.
Facilities / Resources
Camp Jack Wright is 40 acres contiguous to the 1500-acre Tannehill State Park. Together they form a 1540-acre nature and historical preserve, perfect for camping, hiking and other recreational activities. Camp Jack Wright is a primitive area ideal for weekend camping year-round. The camp has been designed for “low impact” camping to preserve the natural esthetics of the property. Facilities include: the “Chief” Zack Cross Council Ring, four troop sites with shelters, a central parking / activity area, permanent orienteering course and activity pavilion. Water may be obtained at spigots near the activity pavilion. Garbage is disposed of at the Tannehill trash dumpster. Access to Camp Jack Wright is from Tannehill State Park.
Campsite Facilities & Amenities
Distance from Parking Lot
NOTE: Distances measured from the parking lot camp dedication monument to campsite pavilion. Linear measurement made by U.S. foot
Reservations are required and can be made by contacting the Greater Alabama Council Service Center nearest you. Do not contact Tannehill State Park regarding Camp Jack Wright reservations. The cost is one dollar per Scout / Scouter per night (payable to the Tannehill Park Ranger at gate on check-in). The Ranger will issue a key ($5.00 refundable deposit) and give directions to camp. Note: March through November there is no camping permitted on the third weekend of the month.
Camp Jack Wright Patch
In an effort to promote the camp and to establish a camp identity, the Camp Jack Wright committee developed a patch for camp. It is provided at no charge to Scouts and their leaders who complete the following requirements:
1. Camp a minimum of one night at camp.
2. Do a service project approved by the Camp Jack Wright Committee.
3. Hike the Benton-Burridge Nature Trail.
4. Have the above three requirements confirmed by Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster may obtain the patches at the Tannehill Park store, by presenting the cashier the completed service project form.
Scout Troops were camping at Tannehill during the 1950s and 1960s. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park opened in 1969. During the 1970s as the park was being developed, Scout Troops conducted numerous service projects to assist. In fact, Farley Field is named after Ed Farley. Mr. Farley was a Bessemer District Scouter who spearheaded its development, utilizing Scouts and their leaders as volunteer laborers. As the park grew and visitation increased to about 400,000 a year, Scout Troops were often denied access. There did not seem to be a solution to this dilemma. Then unsolicited, Mr. Jack Wright approached Mr. Mike Krawcheck with a very generous offer. Mr. Wright proposed giving the Boy Scouts 32 acres to establish a permanent Scout Camp at Tannehill. Mr. Krawcheck presented the proposal to the Council leadership and in time the gift was graciously accepted. As the Tannehill Scout Camp Development Committee began its work, the Chairman Mr. Zack Cross, asked Mr. Krawcheck to locate the owner of 8 acres that were connected to the Scout property. If this property could be obtained it would enhance the use of the Scout Camp. After an exhaustive search, Mr. Krawcheck found that the 8 acres belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Floyd E. Benton. At that time they lived in California. Mr. Krawcheck shared with the Bentons the plans for the Scout Camp. After proper consideration, the Bentons, who had always hoped the property could benefit youth, gave the 8 acres to the Boy Scouts. This completed the land acquisition. The generosity of these two families is very much appreciated and will benefit many generations of Scouts to come.
The council Scout Executive asked Mr. Zack Cross to chair, recruit, and lead a Tannehill Scout Camp Development Committee. He charged Mr. Cross with the responsibility of getting the camp ready for Scout usage. This was to be accomplished at no cost to the council; it was explained that there was no money in the council budget for a new camp. The committee enthusiastically set about its work; first a camp master plan was established. There was no road that went into the camp property; they had one installed. Volunteers built picnic tables, latrines, a pavilion, laid out and cleared Troop sites. They also laid a water line that started at the Tapawingo Bridge at Farley Field and ended near the activity pavilion at Camp Jack Wright. Volunteers designated and cleared a path for the nature trail and identified and marked tree species. Finally an entrance gate and flagpole were installed and the camp was ready. In addition to the facility development, periodically forester managed controlled burns are conducted. These minimize brush and allow fire dependent small native plants (wildflowers) to re-emerge. The Tannehill Scout Camp Development Committee named the camp: Camp Jack Wright, and the nature trail:Benton-Burridge Nature Trail, after the families who were the camp’s benefactors. Camp Jack Wright was dedicated on May 4, 1997.
The site where the Tannehill blast furnaces are located was no accident. Roupes Creek provided waterpower; charcoal was made from the trees in the forest, limestone and most important, rich deposits of brown iron ore were nearby. In 1830, Daniel Hillman was the first to build a forge at the site. Ninian Tannehill took over the forge in 1840, operating it until 1857. During 1859 – 1863, three tall natural block furnaces were built. The Tannehill Furnaces and fourteen other Alabama furnaces supplied pig iron to the Confederacy. By late 1864, Alabama was producing 70% of the South’s iron supply. Tannehill had a daily capacity of 22 tons. This all came to an end on March 31, 1865, when three companies of the Eighth Iowa cavalry commanded by Capt. William A. Sutherland, as part of Union Maj. General James H. Wilson’s Alabama raid, attacked the Tannehill facility and left it in ruin and inoperative.
Union Maj. General James H. Wilson
“Solemnly the old furnace speaks of the heavy ways of toil, long since dead, that our fathers had before us. Majestic in the forest, yet ruling no more, it has a burdened, solitary heart… The very shadows seem to sleep, even as the stones; and the drowsy sun rays circling them are but the brushing wings of evanescent dreams.”
(The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama, 1910)
Special Activities and Attractions
Camp Jack Wright Permanent Orienteering Course: The orienteering course was completed on January 24, 2004 and expanded the summer of 2009. The course should be started from the activity pavilion or the flagpole at Camp Jack Wright. The markers are made from 4”x 4” treated posts that are about 2 feet tall. Each marker has a number engraved on it. There are twenty markers. The course map and description are required to run the course. They may be obtained by clicking on the links above, or by going to the Vulcan Orienteering Club web site under “LINKS”.
Vulcan Orienteering Club
The Trails at Tannehill: Guided horseback trail rides in beautiful Tannehill State Park, riding lessons, horse boarding, etc. Group rates are available; reservations should be made in advance.
The Trails at Tannehill
22975 Eastern Valley Road
McCalla, AL 35111
Phone: (205) 999-7466
Visit The Trails at Tannehill on Facebook
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park: A great activity for Troops that are camping at Camp Jack Wright is to hike the state park, Shirley Real Environmental Trail. The trail is approximately one mile long and its entrance is next to the Camp Jack Wright gate (after entering the trail gate, take the right fork). The trail terminus is at Roupes Creek and the Civil War era Tannehill blast furnaces.
· Tannehill blast furnaces
· Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama
· James Scott Young Country Store
· Gristmill, cotton gin and more than 45 other historical buildings of the 1800s
· Pioneer farm
· Tannehill hiking trails (Trail maps available at the park office.)
· Miniature railway
· Tri-County Marker (A 900-pound granite replica of a compass marks the spot where three counties – Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Bibb – converge in Tannehill State Park.)
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
12632 Confederate Parkway
McCalla, AL 35111
Park Phone Number: (205) 477-5711
Directions to Tannehill:
Tannehill is located off interstate 59, 12 miles southwest of Bessemer, less than 30 minutes from downtown Birmingham. Take I-59/20 to exit 100 and follow the signs (approximately 2 miles) or you can take I-459 to exit 1 and follow signs (approximately 7 miles).
Books of Interest:
Tannehill and the Growth of the Alabama Iron Industry
James R. Bennett
Roupes Valley: A history of the pioneer settlement of Roupes Valley which is located in Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties, Alabama
James H. Walker, Jr.
For: Zack Cross (see page iii in book)
Daniel E. Smith III
Upon entering Tannehill, a visitor gets a sense of history. It is easy to imagine the first pioneers arriving at Roupes Valley with all that they owned piled on a mule or ox drawn wagon. The early Ironmasters sweaty and covered in grime from the heat of their furnaces in blast for the first time; and years later the furnaces operating at a feverish pace to produce pig iron for the Confederate arsenals at Selma, Alabama, where the iron was cast into ordnance, skillets, pots and ovens for the Southern Army. A section of the road from Farley Field to the Camp Jack Wright gate is on the Old Bucksville Stage Road. What a superb setting for a Scout Camp! The Greater Alabama Council is fortunate to have such a unique resource. If the Camp Jack Wright Committee can answer any questions or be of assistance in making plans for a trip to Camp Jack Wright, contact your local Scout Service Center. They will be happy to tell you how to contact one of the committee members. Welcome to Camp Jack Wright!
Written and respectfully submitted by: Rob Turner, CJW Committee-March 5, 2003
Revised: October 10, 2011