Burritt on the Mountain & An Impromptu Tour

Posted by on July 14, 2012

Today we visited Burritt on the Mountain and it’s grounds.  One of the main features is the mansion built in 1936 by Dr. William Burritt, who seemed to be a bit ahead of his time.  He had the mansion built in an ‘X’ shape to be able to take full advantage of the beautiful valley (and Huntsville) below.  With the shape he was also able to enjoy beautiful cross breezes in every room of the home since each room had 3 sides open.  He believed in utilizing the elements of the earth to their potential.  The outer walls of the home were at least 2 feet thick as he had hale bales placed inside them for insulation.   We were offered a free audio tour of the mansion, which we took advantage of and learned much more than if we hadn’t.

The Burritt Mansion

The view of the valley below

When Burritt died in 1977 he willed the estate to the city of Huntsville and they have turned it in to a museum of sorts.  They’ve brought in log homes from northern Alabama from the 1800s and built a small village.  There were several ‘characters’ dressed in period clothing walking around informing visitors of aspects of life during that period.  Each of these gentleman (in our case today) were a wealth of knowledge and were able to explain how the homes were built, what life was like, etc.

A dog trot – this is one of my favorite styles of homes!

A view of inside of one of the buildings – this was a slaves cabin

Checkers, anyone?

At various times they have people who demonstrate certain things from cooking to blacksmithing.  Today we were treated to a gentleman that was working in the blacksmith shop.  He was a retired Brigadier General (serving 32 years) with the US Army and like the other gentleman we met today was full of information about blacksmithing and the area.

Resident blacksmith – a retired US Army Brigadier General

After touring the entire facility we walked down a path to a 74 foot cross that was erected on the side of the mountain.  The cross was built in 1963 by a group of clergyman for the entire valley to be able see & enjoy.  The trees have now grown so tall that the cross is no longer visible but if you walk to down a path you can get to the base of it to view it.

The cross on the mountain

The path is quite steep (down the side of the mountain!) but fortunately the step-like path is fairly well maintained and has one bench about mid-way down the pat.  We got down the path just fine and I was a bit disappointed when we got to the base of the cross to find no information about it at all.  Going back up the path was not fun!  We are both WAY out of shape and wished that there were a few more benches to rest on…but we did it!

THE BENCH – strategically placed for people dying of exhaustion after climbing back up the path!

The step-like path was helpful but we still wished a couple other strategically placed benches!

We brought a picnic lunch and dined in a new shelter not far from the cross that was built recently by the Boy Scouts.  It’s a nice shelter but not maintained very well – hopefully they don’t let all their hard work go for nothing.

Picnic shelter

We decided we didn’t feel much like doing anything more (it’s was only in the mid 80s but the humidity was horrible) so we headed back toward Redstone Arsenal and I thought to the RV Park.  It seems Michael had other ideas…  Before I knew it we continued past our turn off and were headed into uncharted territory.  (ok not uncharted…but we’d never been there!)  We soon saw a couple of signs:  NASA straight ahead & Von Braun Complex to the left.  We choose straight ahead. We drove for a short distance and began seeing signs of NASA and rockets – George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Rocket Park, Rocket testing area etc.  It was really quite interesting and we had a very enjoyable time driving around all the history that was made here.

Our first hint that we were in an exciting and historic area of Redstone Arsenal

Historic rocket test site

A newer test site

A newer and bigger test site – we couldn’t get to these…we don’t have top-secret clearance 🙁 Mikey’s clearance is only secret

Rocket park – established 1960

George C. Marshall Space Flight Center – you can see the rocket engines in the front of the building

Wernher von Braun Complex – home to members of the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA)

After our impromtu tour of the southern portion of Redstone Arsenal we went home for a couple of hours to relax and cool off.  We decided on PF Changs for dinner.   If you haven’t tried PF Changs yet and enjoy Asian cuisine – give it a try!  The chicken lettuce wraps are wonderful!  They have a meal for 2 for $39.99 that includes 2 soups, 1 appetizer, 2 entrees & 2 mini desserts – what a deal!

4 Responses to Burritt on the Mountain & An Impromptu Tour

  1. Michael Barnett

    She forgot to tell you about the guy playing his guitar as he walked the trail back up from the cross. Not a everyday site. But he was pretty good.

  2. John Krussow

    If you have a chance take thr guided tour of the Redstone facility; Rana and I did when we were there for her brother’s wedding. The guide takes you to some of the sites you have been to already but also into buildings and labs where the shuttle payloads were prepared.

    • 2psnapod1

      We’ll definitely keep that in mind for the next time we’re in the area! We both really enjoyed cruising around base checking out the rocket facilities!

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