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 2018 Board of Directors  
Annette F. Reynolds -President  
LaDonna Smith -Secretary
Patti Froman  -  Treasurer
Directors - Alan Cressler, Beau Carroll, John Dursham, Diana Goss, Ramaraju Rudraraju
Caleb Walden- Junior Board


  • Manitou Cave of AL applied for and was awarded by the Alabama Historical Commission and Governor Kay Ivey, a Capital Enhancement Grant that helped to save the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation 2016 "Places in Peril" MCAL Visitor Center. 
  •  Manitou Cave of AL Board Member, Beau Duke Carroll, Archeological Tech of the Tribal Historical Preservation Office of Eastern Band Cherokee Indians completed his thesis on syllabary inscriptions in Manitou Cave of Alabama. The work is titled "Talking Stone: Cherokee Syllabary Inscriptions in Dark Zone Caves,"  and earned his MA in Anthropology under Dr. Jan Simek at the University of Tennessee. 
  • The day before Christmas, David Mitchell Construction and the demo, clean-up, masonry and construction crew led by Chris Mitchell "Raised the NEW Roof" and SAVED the historic beams and Manitou Cave of AL Visitor Center, which was made possible because of the funding, grants, and support of the anonymous donors & workers, the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, the Alabama Historic Commission, visitors, volunteers, neighbors, and friends of Manitou Cave of AL. 



January  2017   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.


February 2017  Architect historian & author Camille Agricola Bowman, and LEED accredited AIA Sr. Associate David Ely, and Ben Collins of KPS Group toured MCAL. 

March 2017 MCAL was granted an interest free Endangered Properties Trust Fund loan by Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation
Manitou Cave of AL earned the Silver Seal of Transparency & Accountability on GuideStar USA the world's largest source of USA nonprofit information. 

April   2017   MCAL "Earth Day Tour" lead by Martha Strange MD with Myra Crawford PhD, author Johann Jenner PhD, author Jan Midgley, Dede Garfrerick, Patsy Ray CRNP, Eric Ray, Jean Bottsford LMT, Richard Bottsford, Helen Ward & Ryan Steward. 

Tour and Singing in Manitou Cave of AL led by Parvathy Baul Ma (India), Ramachandra Roddam (India) Josuah Leavitt & Bhaskar Ghosa (Calif) and artists Tre Taylor & Helene Taylor

May 2017 Assisted by Fenn Spencer, Caitlin Green Kelley Franklin,
Ty and Joe Horton, thirty members attending the 40th Annual Birmingham Audubon Mountain Workshop, including Program and Science Director, Andy Colman, and Membership Vol. Manager, Chris Sykes
toured Manitou Cave of Alabama. 

Consulted with historic architect, Dave Ely, Sr. Assoc. of KPS GROUP and plans and cost estimates submitted to Manitou Cave of AL Visitor Center roof reconstruction. 

June 2017  On Father's Day, John Manion, Curator of Birmingham Boltanical Gardens Kaul Wildflower Garden led a "Botanyblitz" on MCA property followed by a tour.  Also in attendance was conservation biologist, environmental consultant,m co-author of "Turtles of Alabama" Mark Bailey of Conservation Southeast, and Marie Rush DVM, wildlife conservation medicine, Assoc. Prof. St. George's Univ. College of Vet. Medicine in Grenada Wast, and Raymond Corey, Founder & Pres. of Alabama Herpetological Society along with Johnny Hester. Participants found, identified and marked diverse species on the properties. 

Annette F. Reynolds attended 2017 Non Profit University annual training collaborative conference sponsored by The Community Foundation at Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL. 

Retreat led by Lee S. Irwin, founder of Spiritual Women Entrepreneurs with tour of Manitou Cave of Alabama. Lee gifted MCAL with a polished stone from the Narmada River in India. 

Julie Caminiti (Ft. Payne), Alabama Bicentennial Master Teacher, and
27 other educators toured Manitou Cave of Alabama as part of the
"Trail of Tears" workshop along with Dr. Chris Haveman, U of West Alabama, Livingston, Alex Colvin PhD program Auburn Univ, and teachers representing schools Alexandria, Anniston, Attalla, Blountsville, Centre, Chattanooga, Fyffe, Gadsden, Guntersville, Jacksonville, Montgomery, Oxford, Piedmont)_ Pisgah, and Scottsboro. 

MCAL entered Professional Service Agreement for Baseline Conservation Report with biologist, Mark Bailey, Conservation Southeast, Inc. 

MCAL commissioned David Schneider Historic Preservation Consulting Services and subcontractor, Caroline Swope, Kingstree Studios

Jerome Carter and crew replaced blown-off tarp on Visitor Center with 100 ft. x 50 ft. tarp & staked it to the ground. 

July 2017

Entered Twenty year exclusive Lease Agreement with first option to purchase. (In 2016 MCAL entered Exclusive Management Agreement with annual renewal.)

MCAL reserved space in Ft. Payne Times-Journal Business Card Directory, which is published in the newspaper on January 30 and available on its website. 

Manitou Cave of AL joined Ft. Payne Chamber of Commerce.

August 2017

Manitou Cave of AL applied and was granted Endangered Properties Trust Fund Loan by Elizabeth Ann Brown and trustees representing the Alabama Historical Commission and Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Dustin Humphrey (Dusty Gunz Co-Dir. of Veterans Adventure Group)  and Jason Hubble, Jr. assisted with tour of twenty members of group "Exploring Wild Alabama" led by it's author, Ken Wills, and daughter. 

Dannie Cummings Jr. traveled from Oregon with family and toured Manitou Cave of AL in celebration of his 23rd Anniversary of obtaining Eagle Scout Badge while in high school in Alabama for 400+hours of work and conservation efforts with crew of thirty-four Scouts. Board member LaDonna Smith helped with the tour. She and Annette F. Reynolds harvested blooming kudzu flowers on Manitou Cave of AL property. Annette prepared and canned jars of organic kudzu blossom jelly. She also made organic kudzu leaf chips. 

Caroline Swope, MSHP, PhD of Kingstree Studios toured Manitou Cave of AL and began documentation for the Master Site Plan

Manitou Cave of AL registered with Amazon Smile to receive 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases

September 2017

Jimmy Hester, Pres. of Valley Timber, Inc. volunteered, cut, and haul a huge fallen oak tree. George/Jeff White and six local friends toured Manitou Cave of Alabama. Nathan Williams, expert cave photographer and manager of SCCI Tumbling Rock Cave toured and photographed Manitou Cave of Alabama. 

Jared Ragland and Cary Norton included photo of Manitou Cave of AL cedar tree in Gusdugger Tintype Photograph landscape project
"Where you Come From is Gone." 

Annette F. Reynolds attended Birmingham-Southern College Krulak Institute Poster Expo of student's summer learning experiences.

Linda Gail Sherk and twelve members of Blanch Dean Chapter of the Alabama Wildflower Society and Missy R. Turner identified wild and edible on Manitou Cave property and tour. Linda translated from Latin to English previous list of all identified flora.  

Annette F. Reynolds attended Ft. Payne Chamber of Commerce reception honoring retirement of Carol Beddingfield after serving twelve years as Exec. Director. 

Annette F/ Reynolds toured Valley Joist, Inc. and Wills Valley Rec. Center, Ft. Payne. 

Mr. J.T. Stephens, Ft. Payne Valley Joist Gen Man. Josh Brasher, Sales Man Bill Jacoway and Engineer Kelly Sanders visit Manitou Cave of AL. 

October 2017   

Principal Billy Duncan, Assist. Principal Whiney Smith, Melissa Savers and fourteen other faculty and staff of Pisgah k-12 School in Jackson Co. AL toured Manitou Cave of AL. 

Annette F. Reynolds attended Coosa River Basin Steering Committee Conference at Pell City Civic Center. 

"No Limits"' Coach Lee S. Irwin, toured the cave with seven Elevate Master Mind for Women attendees from four states: CA, PA, VA, AL. 

Group tour with musical event in Manitou Cave of AL entered as a fundraising auction item for Southern Environmental Center EcoFest 2017 with Director Roald Hazelhoff at Birmingham-Southern College. 

Annette Reynolds attended UAB Project Space student exhibit at BLOOM Studio as part of the Peace & Justice Studies Conference "Moving from Civil Rights to Human Rights" led by Assist. Prof. Doug Boulas. 

Mobile home loaned by Missy R. Turner & moved to Manitou Cave of AL property by Aris Virciglio to be used as a temporary office during Visitor Center rehabilitation. Storage unit purchased for tour chairs and supplies. 

Annette F. Reynolds attended workshop Internships That Work led by Ex. Director of Alabama Possible, Kristina Scott, and rise3 Director Dr. Jessican Pincham King, Assist. Dir Internships Katie Smith, and Director of Engaged Learning Dr. Kent Anderson at Birmingham-Southern College

Manitou Cave of AL Board of Dircetors, Dr. Ramaraju Rudraraju earned PhD at UAB and led group of eight musicians and singers on a tour and musical aftern in the Great Reflection Room (the Ballroom) & recorded Gandhi's favorite song, Gayatri.

November 2017

Annette F. Reynolds attended ALABAMA 200 Regional Community Workshop and met Jerald Crook, Community Programs Coordinator of Alabama Bicentennial Commission, at Little River Canyon Center, Fort Payne, AL. 

Annette F. Reynolds attended Friends of Locust Fork (FLFR) showing of the movie, "Mystery of Trees" at the Extension Office in Oneonta, AL. 

Annette F. Reynolds attended Alabama Association for Nonprofits 2017 Leadership Summit at Junior League Office in Birmingham, AL 

Old and new friends of Blount County Common Ground Community toured MCAL, which was led by Debra Gordon-Hellman, with Nancy Jackson, Susan & Jamie Finley, Sharon & Stephen Cook, Martha Hunter & President of (FLFR) Friends of Locust Fork River, Stephen Guesman, Rick Trescott & Pat Lyles, Brian & Ariel Dean, Jamie Rose Montagne, Sean Andrews & David Berry Jr. 

Bradley Roberts, editor Ft. Payne Times-Journal, wrote an article about MCAL in partnership with Director Kelly Smith Leavitt, Board, and members of Little River Arts Council, Mentone, AL.

December 2017

Birmingham-Southern College, Randy Law, PhD, Prof. of History, Chair Lupton Academic Area, and Megan Gibbons, Phd, Prof. of Biology, Chair Wightman Area (expert in salamanders) and Peter VanZandt, Phd, Assit. Prof of Biology, and Caleb Walden 2017-18 Hess Fellow: Krulak Institute for Learning, Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement and interested in a January term Internship toured Manitou Cave of AL.

Annette F. Reynolds was honored to meet and share with "Beloved Man" of the Cherokee, Jeremiah "Jerry" Wolfe about Manitou Cave of AL. Hew thanked Annette for her stewardship and told her a Cherokee story about "Great Spirit."  Annette visited the large wooden sculpture of Sequoyah in front of the Museum of the Cherokee and Qualla Art & Crafts Mutual, Inc. Cherokee, NC. 

Anna Reynolds of White Space Studio purchased on eBay and gifted Manitou Cave of AL with the press release photo of Manitou Cave Park opening in April, 1961. 

MCAL receives Home Depot, Inc. Tax Exempt registration. 

From 2014-2016 diverse interested individuals and groups 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  SEVEN COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES:
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.


January 2016  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.



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.



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