Friday, June 25, 2010

Fossils of Belknap Bridge

Belknap Memorial Bridge is located in Cherokee Park (Louisville, Kentucky).  It spans over Beargrass Creek which exposes Louisville Limestone and Waldron Shale from the Silurian Period.  As the plaque says, it was built in 1901.

The bridge seems to be constructed of Louisville Limestone to provide a road over Beargrass Creek shown in the picture above.  After finding the index fossil Halysites (chain coral) in the stone blocks used in the construction of this bridge, the stone is most likely Louisville Limestone.  See image below.

The next fossil might be some sort of sponge found in another block on the bridge.

Here is maybe another sponge.

Last, not sure what this fossil is but does appear to be branching.  It is worn but should be after being exposed to the elements for at least 109 years.

Cherokee Park - Louisville, Kentucky
Cherokee Park was designed in the late 1800s by Fredrick Law Olmsted Sr (1822-1903). One can assume the park is named after Native American people known as the Cherokee.  The Cherokee do not appear to have ever lived in the Louisville area though. Other Olmsted parks in Louisville seemed to be named after different Native American groups (e.g. Iroquois, Seneca, Shawnee, Chickasaw).

 Fredrick Law Olmsted Sr.
Oil Painting by John Singer Sargent (1895)
Biltmore Estate - Ashville, North Carolina
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The park covers about 390 acres around the Bluegrass Creek valley and opened in 1892. Of interest is Big Rock in Beargrass Creek that marks an area of Silurian Period rock (Louisville Limestone & Waldron Shale), Hogan's Fountain, and the Nettelroth Bird Sanctuary. This last location might be named after the naturalist/geologist Henry Nettelroth (1835-1887).  He compiled an 1889 paleontology monograph entitled: "Kentucky Fossil Shells" that can still be used today.

Belknap Memorial Bridge
The Belknap Memorial Bridge might be named for William Burke Belknap (1811-1889), who was a local entrepreneur and philanthropist.  He grew up in Allegheny, Pennsylvania and learned much about iron furnaces.  By 1840, he moved to Louisville and founded an iron nail business.  He later started a iron rolling mill and later a hardware business.  While in Louisville, Belknap supported founding of a library, refugee help and improvements to the sanitary system. A good assumption that the University of Louisville Belknap campus is named for his family as well.

Learn more about Louisville's Olmsted parks at Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy.