Our Mission

The Mission of Manitou Cave of AL is to respect and protect this historic,
sacred site through conservation and education
so that the cave, land a water are preserved for visitors
and wildlife
as a place of peace.  
The 2017 Board of Directors  
Annette F. Reynolds -President  
LaDonna Smith -Secretary
Patti Froman  -  Treasurer
Directors - Alan Cressler, Beau Carroll, John Dursham, Diana Goss, Ramaraju Rudraraju 


During the past two years diverse interested individuals and groups have contacted MCAL to see Manitou Cave of Alabama.  Annette has led tours for hundreds of visitors of all ages from
FIVE COUNTRIES:  Brazil, UK, India, Nepal, & USA.
that included archeologists, anthropologists, artists, authors, biologists, cavers, conservationists, children, engineers, environmentalists, families, geologists, historians, medical doctors, musicians, Native American, neighbors, preservationists, photographers, researchers, religious leaders, University President Emeritus (UTK) and professors from
University of Alabama, UAB, Mississippi State, University of Tennessee (Knoxville),
Jacksonville State,  Sewanee, & Swarthmore
Directors, supervisors leaders of organizations EBCI, USFWS, DCNR, NPS, LRCC, ATHP, APT, NSS, SERA, Birmingham Grotto, Nashville Grotto, Birmingham Audubon, & Leeds Eagle Scouts.



August     Annette Reynolds discover Manitou Cave and property is for sale.


January- June

Annette tells others about Manitou and many people want to go visit. Annette gets permission from Dr. Brewer each time and leads many tours.  Annette witnesses the positive experiences of visitors and talks to anonymous donors about purchasing cave. Annette submits escrow check and contract to Dr. Brewer on his birthday with closing date set ninety days later. The contract has ten contingencies to ensure that the cave, bridges & building are safe, to protect the cave
and the public.


Annette visits National Speleological Society (NSS) in Huntsville and meets Bill Torode who tells her about Birmingham Grotto.

Annette attends first Birmingham Grotto meeting at Ruffner Mountain and announces to members about her interest in Manitou. They are very supportive and suggest contacting
caver attorney Jay Clark.

Annette meets with Jay Clark, who takes her on her on her first “wild” cave trip to SCCi cave, Tumbling Rock. Jay visits Manitou Cave & confirms her goals for Manitou.


Under the leadership of Birmingham Grotto, Alan Cook (Pres), Cassie Perry and Greg Brecht, Birmingham Grotto members volunteer 400 hours to scrape and dispose of thick cave mud off of all eight indoor wooden and steel bridges and install roofing paper rolls to protect the bridges to make them safe for visitors.

Alan Cook and Cassie Perry travel to Chattanooga and haul back 3,000 lobs of steel purchased from Buddy Lane. Birmingham Grotto and Fort Payne neighborhood volunteers unload the steel and hand carry it to the cave entrance.

Kristen Bobo designs and builds state-of-the art cave gate on-site over the three day weekend of Sept. 19 with Uriah Prior, Page Ashwell, Alan Cook and Cassie Perry.  

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians offer to help fund the $5,000 new cave gate to protect the contents of the cave.

Anonymous donors purchase Manitou Cave and 10 acre property on Oct. 14, 2014
Manitou Cave of AL, Inc. name reserved with State of Alabama.
Legal counsel, Jay Clark, creates and files MCAL Articles of Incorporation.

MCAL applies for 501c3 non-profit designation.

Start-up Executive Board Officers:  Annette Reynolds, LaDonna Smith and Cathy Haven Howard, confirm MCAL Board Meeting on Dec. 21, and adopt MCAL By-Laws.



MCAL receives 501(c)(3) determination

Alan Cressler photographs Annette behind the 40 ft. stalagmite, traditionally called “Haystack.” Annette has vision of logo and draws the image. The name of stalagmite is changed to “Great Spirit Mountain”. Anna Reynolds, Director of White Space Studio, creates MCAL logo pro-bono from Annette’s drawing.

Annette meets and shares her MCAL Vision with, John Dersham, Pres. of DeKalb Co. Tourism, Jimmy Durham, Exec. Dir. DeKalb Co. Economic Authority and Ricky Harcrow, Pres. DeKalb Co. Commission who offer their support.


Distinguished professor, Pres. Emeritus, UTK anthropologist, Dr. Jan Simek, Knoxville, TN, masters student, Beau Carroll of EBCHI, Cherokee NC and Alan Cressler visit cave and begin researching, photographing, documenting Cherokee inscriptions & Sequoyah syllabary. Marion O. Smith visits Manitou and gifts Annette with a copy of his original typewritten 1991 research paper on Confederate saltpeter works at Manitou Cave.

President of Nashville Grotto, historian & author of seven books about caves, Larry E. Matthews gifts one of his books to Annette and grotto members Kim Fedrick and David Wascher visit Manitou. Kim Fedrick interviews Annette for SERA Guidebook.


Fenn Spencer & Greg Brecht arrange & help lead two tours of Manitou for Bham Audubon Mt. Workshop Group including Suzanne Langley, Exec. Dir.

Frank Burder of Burder Creative designs, creates & uploads MCAL Website and Landing Page.

Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation designates MCAL historic Visitor’s Center as one of the five 2016  Places in Peril. 

Annette leads two Manitou Cave tours with visitors from five states as part of the 65 Annual SERA Cave Carnival. Kim Fedrick gifts Annette with SERA t-shirt & June 2016 SERA-Southeast Regional Association Cave Carnival Guidebook, which contains article about Manitou written by Kim.

Manitou Cave and property is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by National Wildlife Federation.

Birmingham Grotto receives NSS Conservation of Cave and Karst Resources for member’s volunteer hours at MCAL.


Tours:  Steve Black National Park Service & Superintendent Little River Canyon; Dr. Niki Wayner, Assistant Director at Jacksonville State University Filed School; Mary Shew & Steve White-Resource Management Specialists; Larry Beane-Interpretive Park Ranger/Volume Coordinator,
Bruce & Francine Hutchinson-Assistant Herbarium Curator at Jackonville State University.  

Manitou Cave Tour:  Lee Holt, US Fish & Wildlife Biologist; Dr. Paul Johnson of Alabama Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources;  Eric Spadgenske-State Coordinator Partners for Fish & Wildlife Service; Jeff Powell-Deputy Field Supervisor Alabama Ecological Services Field Office; Rob Hurt, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, Jeff Garner-Mycologist for Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resource Wildlife Fisheries Division, & Wildlife Conservationist of the Year;  
Alan Cressler-Hydro logical Tech and world class photographer.  


Dr. Jan Simek, Professor Emeritus UT,  National Geographic Photographer Stephen Alvarez photographs syllabary in 3-D with author John Jeremiah Sullivan and Assistant Joel tour Manitou. Annette gives John Sullivan and Joel a tour of significant Fort Payne Cherokee Historic sites for an article John Sullivan is writing for Smithsonian Magazine.

Annette receives Special Award & Medal on behalf of Sequoyah for his contribution to literacy & literature in Alabama at the 2016 Alabama Writer’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Gala at Bryant Conference Center, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.  Annette talks to world-renowned biologist, Pulitzer Prize author Edward O. Wilson, who is also an Inductee and is interested in MCAL, who shares with Annette about his explorations of caves in AL in the 1940’s when he was a student at the University of Alabama.


Annette meets USFWS and DCNR biologists from Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia and discuss conservation partnering and management plan of water recharge area and cave stream at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge led by Lee Holt to protect rare snail Antrobis Breweri.

MCAL registers with Amazon Smile.

MCAL graphic created for “Raise the Roof” fundraising campaign for restoration of the MCAL Visitors Center as a part of #Giving Tuesday Campaign, launched Nov. 29.

MCAL receives Guidestar Exchange BRONZE participant designation.


Geologists George Ponta & Michael Smith of Geological Survey of AL collect baseline groundwater samples in Manitou Cave.  Sampling effort & water sample analyses funded through the Groundwater Assessment Program.

Architect, Dave Howell & wife, Valerie, visit Manitou and draw plans of MCAL Visitors Center.

Annette attends NYE Bat Ball Fundraiser at NSS in Huntsville & thanks Bill Torode and others.



MCAL Board of Directors meet at DeKalb County Visitors Center in Fort Payne, for the
First Annual Meeting and Appreciation Day, followed by a Manitou Cave Tour.

Volunteers Fenn Spencer, Greg Brecht, Daniel Goolsby Charlie Steilkie, Jim Loflin, Shannon Neiswenter, Tyler Newton tarp roof of MCL Visitors Center.