Little River Canyon Celebrates Third Anniversary


Three years ago today, Jacksonville State University not only celebrated its 125th Anniversary with "Power of 125: Join the Celebration,” but also it publicly opened doors to its Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne, Alabama for the very first time. During the four-hour reception, nearly 4,000 people came to see the facility to hear about JSU, welcome the National Park Service staff and enjoy each other’s company.
“We nearly shut down Highway 35 with all the traffic,” said Pete Conroy, Little River Canyon Center Director, “It was all great, we had great food, and great speakers like President Meehan, Randy Owen, Willard Bowers from the Alabama Power Company, Field School creator and former State Senator Doug Ghee, architect Jay Jenkins and even Don Bevill, who’s the son of the Congressman who created the National Preserve.”
Since the opening of the facility there have been countless events, programs and classes. There have been thousands of visitors and several important improvements to the facility such as the addition of an HD movie theatre, the production of an award winning film, the opening of the Canyon Center Gift Shop, the construction of a PATH to Learning trail with five outdoor classrooms, the addition of a rooftop rainwater collection system and the completion of a new $8 million bridge that crosses Little River and adjoins the facility.
“Most importantly,” says Conroy, “this facility has never been a drain on the University, in fact it’s been quite the opposite.” Since the grand opening on February 22, 2009, the Canyon Center has contributed over $185,000 to the University’s budget through its building rentals, lease and programs.
Upcoming developments at the Canyon Center include the opening of a new entry gate and roadway, construction of an outdoor amphitheater, development of an art trail, and a twenty year anniversary celebration of the Little River Canyon National Preserve established in 1992.
Conroy concluded, “While we have a lot still to do, our top priority for fund raising is the Canyon Museum as with that we’ll best educate the public and attract even more tourists to the region.” JSU encourages public use of the Little River Canyon Center and has set up an on-line donation link for related contributions.
The Little River Canyon Center is a project of JSU’s Environmental Policy and Information Center. It is a LEED registered building that is partly leased to the National Park Service and opens to the public from 10:00 to 4:00 nearly every day. For more information