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Big Spring International Park

200 Church Street SW
Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, 35801

Big Spring International Park in Huntsville, Alabama
Photo: License: CC0 1.0
Big Spring International Park is located in downtown Huntsville, Alabama. The park is built around its namesake "Big Spring", the original water source that the city of Huntsville was built around.
From 1827 to the early 1840s, what would later become the park grounds served as the site of the Fearn Canal, built from 1821 to 1824. The canal was built by the Indian Creek Navigation Company, led by local resident Dr. Thomas Fearn. It linked downtown Huntsville and the spring to the Tennessee River, allowing traders to bypass a costly wagon haul of about 11 miles South to the nearest river port, Ditto's Landing in the town of Whitesburg. The canal eventually became obsolete upon the construction of railroads.

The original park site is situated in downtown Huntsville, starting from the west side of the courthouse square, and extending about two blocks southwest. This part of the park includes the spring itself and a canal extending to the rest of the park. The park's construction began September 21, 1898, under the direction of Chittenden of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stationed at the park during the Spanish–American War. Col. Chittenden became interested in the park and the source of the Big Spring.

Today the park prominently features gifts given by other countries and foreign nationals to the city of Huntsville, including a 1903 light beacon (often referred to as "the lighthouse") and a 1929 fog bell given by Norway in 1973. Other smaller gifts include a bench from the United Kingdom and a sundial from Germany. The most recognizable gifts, however, are the iconic red Japanese bridge and cherry trees, given by Japanese Major General Mikio Kimata.

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