Helena Historical Preservation Committee leads hike

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

HELENA – Under the swaying branches of old trees, the Helena Historic Preservation Committee led a group of around 45 people on a historical hike to Helena’s coke ovens on Saturday, April 6.

Coke refers to a coal-based fuel created by baking the impurities out of coal in an oven and is valued for its use in iron-ore smelting and production. According to HHPC member Linda Wurstner, this process was especially important due to the quality of coal mined in Helena.

“As Butch Botters—who led the hike on Saturday—pointed out, Helena’s coal was not that clean,” Wurstner said. “We had to wash it and put it in the coke ovens and burn it down.”

According to the HHPC, Helena once had 12 coke ovens on land owned by coal prospector Billy Gould, likely operated by the Eureka Company. The remnants of the Helena coke ovens are the only surviving coke ovens in this part of the Cahaba coal field and perhaps the earliest coke ovens to be constructed in Alabama.

In addition to touring the remnants of the coke ovens, hikers also had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Wilson’s Raiders and see the bridge supports in Buck Creek and the Cahaba River.

“We were able to see the bridge supports in the Cahaba River,” Wurstner said. “There’s a story on our Facebook page about how Wilson’s Raiders rushed across those and into Helena and did so much damage just because our troops forgot to secure that bridge. They also burned about 3,000 pounds of coal that were at the Gould mines.”

The most recent historical hike is one installment in a long list of events hosted by the HHPC so far this year.

To start the year, the HHPC hosted a hike on the other side of Buck Creek to see the bridge supports on Feb. 3. This hike featured 82 total members of the community.

The HHPC also hosted a community cleanup day at Harmony Cemetery on Saturday, Feb. 17. Community members, including six Helena Belles and three boy scouts, joined the HHPC to whack privet and clear vines away from the graves.

The most recent event prior to the hike was an education night at Helena City Hall with a presentation on the history of Sloss Furnace and its operations from Sloss Furnace Education Coordinator Ty Malugani on Tuesday, March 19.

Those interested in learning more about the Helena Historic Preservation Committee can visit Facebook.com/HelenaHistory.

280 Main Story

‘Immensely proud:’ OMHS students receive diplomas during 25th commencement exercise

News

Pelham High School bids farewell to graduates during 2024 commencement

280 Main Story

Shelby County Chamber recognizes small business leaders at annual luncheon

280 Main Story

‘Monumental achievement:’ Spain Park High School says goodbye to the class of 2024

Calera

Calera recognizes three public servants

280 Main Story

The Arc of Shelby County’s 2024 golf tournament ‘a huge success’

Helena

The Allman Betts Band rocks Old Town Live

280 Main Story

Area teams on the move in newest spring sports reclassification

Alabaster Main Story

Column: Thompson class president sparks thoughts of perseverance

Montevallo

Montevallo High School celebrates graduating class during commencement

Alabaster Main Story

Chris Stewart delivers keynote address at Thompson graduation

Calera

Calera High School class of 2024 accepts diplomas

News

Pelham signing day ceremony celebrates nine new college athletes

News

Mayor Waters declares May 20 as Tom Seale Day in Pelham

Columbiana

Shelby County Class of 2024 remembers legacy at graduation

280 Main Story

Vincent’s Class of 2024 celebrates journey, looks to future at graduation

Montevallo

University of Montevallo to launch nursing program next semester

Business

Alabama Extension to offer course on state cottage food law in Columbiana

Helena

Helena celebrates the graduating class of 2024

Alabaster Main Story

‘You have persevered’: Thompson graduation ceremony honors class of 2024

280 Main Story

‘Dare to reach higher’: Chelsea celebrates class of 2024 at graduation ceremony

Alabaster Main Story

Thompson’s D’Marion Terrell commits to Auburn

News

Local triathletes battle elite talent in XTERRA races at Oak Mountain State Park

News

Pelham City Schools celebrates Panther Pride at special called meeting