Rattlesnake Saloon


Useful Information

Location: Tuscumbia.
Highway 247 between Tuscumbia and Red Bay. From Tuscumbia Highway 72 west 10 km, turn left on highway 247, after 14 km turn right on road 33, 2.6 km.
(34.64877409578991, -87.90678516933814)
Open: 14-FEB to MAR Thu-Sat 11-22.
APR to NOV Thu-Sat 11-22, Sun 11-15.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Restaurant
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:  
Address: Rattlesnake Saloon, 1292 Mount Mills Road, Tuscumbia, AL 35674, Tel: +1-256-370-7220.
Reservations: Tel: +1-256-370-7218, ask for Ms Tee Tee.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1916 land purchased by Owen Foster.
Labor Day 2009 Saloon opened to the public.

Geology

The shelter seems to be an erosional cave created by a waterfall, a river coming from the south fell down an escarpment and created two caves, a smaller one in the middle and a bigger one at the foot of the cliff. Below the waterfall, the river flows through the valley or gorge it created. Such caves are actually quite typical for waterfalls, but because of a rather soft layer of rock the lower cave is quite spacious. The shelter was formed at a time when the river had much more water, probably at the end of the last cold age with the melting water from glaciers. The brook of today still forms a small waterfall on the left side of the shelter. The water originates from the Newsom Springs, which explain why the lodge was named Seven Springs Lodge. The water is dammed below, forming a 150 m long lake.

Description

The Rattlesnake Saloon is a cave restaurant and bar located inside a huge natural cave or shelter. The Seven Springs Lodge is located on the plain above, a single lane gravel road leads into the gorge to the shelter. A wooden wild west saloon was built into the shelter, and there are tables and benches inside and in front of the cave. From 17 alcohol is served, and they serve food all day, mostly burgers and grilled meat. It's not possible to reserve tables except for a strictly limited number of groups (25+) per day. There are frequently live music events, mostly country music. To cite the Blues Brothers: "We got both kinds, we got country and western!"

The land was owned by the Foster family since it was bought by Owen Foster, who was known as Plain Owen, in 1916. He actually ignored the cave and used the land for farming and timber. His son William Owen Foster, known as Chicken Owen, used the shelter as a hog pen. He drilled a hole from above into the shelter to feed the hogs, because there was no road to the shelter at that time. His son Owen Daniel Foster Sr, called Danny, created the Seven Springs Lodge. He first catered to hunters, later he opened the land to trail riding, ATV and motorcycle events, chuckwagon races, and SHiFT Design Camps. For non-locals: SHiFT Design is a Chattanooga-based educational initiative, which offer various educational events for college students, recent graduates, and young professionals. The camps are collaborative adventures with workshops, field trips, and discussions. They used the shelter as a meeting space. Danny and his youngest son, William Gordon Foster, had the idea to add some kind of saloon to the lodge. They constructed the saloon inside the shelter in only 49 days. The name was inspired by the discovery of a rattlesnake den with a mother snake and twelve little ones during construction. The hole from the surface, which was drilled for the hog pen, was reused for water pipes and electric wires.

The site was most likely a shelter for the native Americans for thousands of years. Other shelters nearby revealed archaeological remains, but this shelter was never excavated, probably the remains were destroyed by it former use as a hog pen.