Canebrake (region of Alabama)

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The Canebrake refers to a historical region of west-central Alabama that was once dominated by thickets of Arundinaria, a type of bamboo, or cane, native to North America.[1] It was centered on the junction of the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers, near Demopolis, and extended eastward to include large parts of Hale, Marengo, and Perry counties.[2] Portions of Greene and Sumter were also often included.[1][3]

Cane thickets once covered hundreds of thousands of acres in Alabama, but this area, lying within the Black Belt, had the most extensive stands and was known as "The Canebrake."[4] It was noted by naturalist William Bartram as he traveled along the Tombigbee River in 1775. He described cane that was "thick as a man's arm, or three or four inches in diameter; I suppose one joint of some of them would contain above a quart of water."[1]

The cane began to disappear with the large-scale arrival of white settlers following the Creek Wars. The settlers introduced crops that replaced the native cane and their suppression of fire allowed the cane in other areas to be overtaken by species that would have naturally been kept in check by fire. However, as late as 1845 Scottish geologist Charles Lyell noted the height and density of the canebrakes along the Black Warrior River.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d John C. Hall (17 August 2007). "Canebrakes". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  2. ^ "Plantation Houses of the Alabama Canebrake and Their Associated Outbuildings Multiple Property Submission" (PDF). NRIS Database. National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Alabama's Canebrake". West Alabama Regional Alliance. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Bill, Finch (15 August 2008). "Lost in the Canebrake". Press-Register. Retrieved 17 December 2008.