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. The sanctuary was named Herman H. and Mary Buchner Nettelroth Memorial Sanctuary according to a 1958 Courier Journal article. It listed "sanctuary will be a one-acre fenced-in site centering on a three-tier fountain and bird bath... The Nettelroth estate will provide $500 for setting up the sanctuary and about $150 each year to maintain it and buy seed for birds... provided for in the will of Mrs. Nettelroth who died April 24, 1957... The projects will be financed from income from the estate of about $600,000, which as been set up as the Herman H. Nettelroth Fund."

Herman was the son of the Louisville naturalist/geologist Henry Nettelroth (1835-1887).  He compiled an 1889 paleontology monograph entitled: "Kentucky Fossil Shells" that can still be used today. His sons donated his about 8,000 specimens fossil collection to the Smithsonian Institution in 1907.

Belknap Memorial Bridge
The Belknap Memorial Bridge is named for Lily Buckner Belknap (1858-1893). Her husband, Morris Burke Belknap (1856-1910) had it built in her honor. The bridge was completed in 1901. Lily was the daughter of Kentucky Governor and Confederate Civil War General Simon B. Buckner (1823-1914). Her half brother, General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. (1886-1945) who die during World War II's Battle of Okinawa.

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

UPDATED (11-22-2022): While research Henry Nettelroth and his family I discovered a number of my assumptions were wrong about the bird sanctuary and also who the bridge was named for. I have re-written a number sections of this posting to reflect more accurate information.


"Estate Paying at Cherokee Park to Get Bird Haven", The Courier-Journal 17 Jun 1958, Tue Page 1; note article confuses the occupation of Herman H. Nettelroth (1871-1936) who was a attorney. It mistakes him as a Crescent Hill physician which was his brother Alexander Walter Nettelroth (1869-1952). 

Morris B. Belknap - Wikipedia

Image | Belknap Bridge. | ID: 3d95a8ee-ba3a-412f-bdcc-576da0035cf4 | Hyku (