While thousands of visitors each year take in the park’s natural beauty, few may realize that under its verdant veneer lies an outstanding outdoor education laboratory and classroom. It is a place that draws archeologists, historians, teachers and students alike to investigate, instruct and learn from the rich history of the site in industrial, social and geological perspectives. Beginning with Hillman’s Bloomery in 1830, Tannehill became known as the birthplace of the Birmingham Iron and Steel District.
From scenery to science and education, the Tannehill Learning Center, which operates as a program of the Iron & Steel Museum, offers unique outdoor classroom learning experiences for Alabama school children from both public and private institutions. The center grew out of efforts to provide meaningful student field trips in an historical environment on the part of a 28-member teacher panel working in concert with the University of Alabama College of Education in the early 1980s.
Several “learning loops” focusing on the Fourth Grade Course of Study as approved by the Alabama Department of Education were developed. Personnel from both the University of Alabama and the Alabama Dept. of Conservation cooperate with the museum staff to offer relevant study programs for students of all ages.
This educational experience focuses on how workers, both free and slave, from the Civil War era lived and worked and the resources that supported settlement and manufacturing in early Alabama. Program content is adaptable to meet the curriculum needs of students in grades k-12. Following two hours of instructional activities, students may ride the park’s miniature railroad and visit the Country Store and the Sweet Shoppe. Call 205‑477‑5711 for reservations or more information.
Guided Tour Stops:
The Iron & Steel Museum: View the tools and machines that made Alabama a leading iron producing state in the 1800s.
Fowler House School: Take part in the school experience of the1860s.
The Blast Furnaces: Learn how iron was made during the Civil War.
Nature Trail: Walk down an actual highway from the past.
Some schools may qualify to have their fees waived if they are public schools where forty percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Assistance does NOT include any transportation costs. Funding of this effort is a public service of Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park with additional support provided by the Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
Hands-on environmental learning is now available through "Creek Kids", a partnership of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division and Tannehill State Park. Students experience an overview of a watershed via a train ride, see the impact of a mill dam on fish passage and visit the Iron and Steel Museum to learn about Alabama’s iron industry. Students also work with an Enviroscape to see how pollution can affect the aquatic environment and wade into an actual bubbling spring for a close-up view of native fish and invertebrates. Many species of fish and aquatic invertebrates, including some types of darters, crayfish, mussels and snails, live only in Alabama.
Creek Kids program times may be reserved by calling the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at 205-477-6301 or email for more information or reservations. Some schools may have their fees waived if they are public schools where forty percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Assistance may include some transportation costs. Funding of this effort comes from the sale of "Freshwater Fishing" car tags.
Creek Kids Hike
Visit the The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division and the Alabama Geological Survey Web Page featuring Fishes of Tannehill
Side Trails to History Hike
Students at Christmas Village catch a glimpse into the days of Christmas past and experience what life would have been like during the Civil War era at Christmas time. Staged in the park’s historic cabins, costumed demonstrators engage students with period music, parlor games and toys, period Christmas decorations, camp life for Civil War soldiers in the field and other topics which vary annually. Christmas Village is offered Wednesday through Friday during the first two weeks of December. This program is best suited for grades k‑5, but all grades are welcome.
Program fee is $5 per person.
Minimum group size is 20 students.
Civil War Living History
Civil War Living History will be offered on Thursday and Friday, March 5–6. Students will have the opportunity to see demonstrations of Infantry, Cavalry, and artillery! They will also have the opportunity to participate in drill activities and learn about Civil War soldiers’ flags and uniforms, what soldiers carried in the field, and how they ate.
All grade levels are welcome.
Program fee is $5 per person.
Home School Day
In the spring, Tannehill hosts a field trip day for home school students. This program will give home school students and their families the opportunity to explore the park through the Side Trails to History Program. Learn how iron was made at the historic Tannehill Ironworks during the Civil War, what natural resources attracted settlers and industrialists here, and how Alabama’s industrial pioneers lived in the 1800s.
In addition to the tour, this year’s Homeschool Day will feature blacksmith demonstrations and an afternoon aluminum casting workshop by the Sons of Vulcan.