“Underwhelming” is a decent one-word description of my visit to Russell Cave National Monument in northeast Alabama.
The outdated and rundown visitor’s center’s main highlight was a dog calmly lying in the sunlight out front. An informational video was the centerpiece of the visitor’s center. It narrated the history of the cave and the evidence discovered showing human activity dating way back. The visitor’s center also included displays of various items found in the cave.
The two park rangers seemed rather disinterested in their job and their visitors, yet very interested in their conversation with each other. There was a family of four there with us.
After a short walk on a railed boardwalk, we arrived at the aforementioned cave–a large hollowed out spot in a cliff with a stream running out of it. Visitors are not permitted in the cave. Archeological paraphernalia is in the cave giving the idea that we were in an important place. We could see darkened rock in the cave ceiling, which the video told us was evidence of years of camp fires.
And that was it.
We were there for maybe half an hour, ten minutes of which were spent watching the video. It was unique and pretty in its way, but you’re not going to spend much time there.
John F. Kennedy set the land apart as a National Monument solely for its historical significance–the fact that many people came here over the years. And by so doing, made sure few people would come in the future. This is perhaps the worst National Anything I’ve ever been to. It is possible that JFK really didn’t need to do this for his country.