Big Spring Park is a big attraction in Huntsville, Ala.

Big Spring International Park in Huntsville, Ala. is a place for festivals, historic memory and the display of global recognition. Located in downtown Huntsville, the park is named after the natural spring that was once the main water supply of the city. Churning up almost twenty-four million gallons of water a day, this force of nature supplied the city until 1957 and was a major source of income to the city coffers. It was near here that Huntsville’s first settler, John Hunt, built his log cabin in 1805.

As it is noted on the historic landmark at the park’s entrance, the grounds have been used by the city since 1843 when William H. Pope, city founder Leroy Pope’s son, deeded them to the city. Since 1898 the area around the spring has been reserved for picnicking and recreation much as it is today. Without this spring, Huntsville may never have grown to the city it has become. This natural water source has always attracted visitors from far and wide as a place to drink, be baptized or simply as a wonder to marvel at.

The park is home to a collection of artifacts donated from around the world to honor Huntsville and its citizens. Each has its own tale to tell of a moment in Huntsville history. The first to arrive were sixty Yoshino cherry trees in 1966 followed by a red bridge ten years later. These were gifted to Huntsville by retired general Mikio Kimata to honor the city’s “cooperation in the Japanese air defense missile programs,” Kimata attended the Redstone Arsenal’s Ordnance Guidance School (renamed the U.S. Army Ordnance Missile and Munitions Center and School) in the 1960’s and was deeply moved by the hospitality shown to him and his follow soldiers. When he made the second donation, the red friendship bridge, he returned to Huntsville with his wife for the dedication ceremony.

After the Kimata generosity, the city looked to other nations to expand its collection. The International Service Council received many donations although some have been lost in time. Among the remaining symbols of global recognition are the light beacon and fog bell both donated by Norwegian Kosti Herlofson and a park bench from Britain. Other donations included a sun dial from Germany and over 200 rose bushes planted in the shape of a Swiss flag donated by Rapperswill, Switzerland.

Most people who find their way to the park come for the festivals that are hosted here annually. The Panoply Art Festival takes place in April and includes playwriting, fiddling, talent competitions and performances. It is a celebration of all the arts from acting to singing, writing to dancing and more.  

Whether you go for a festival, to learn about Huntsville’s history or simply enjoy a picnic, the Big Spring International park is a great place to go when you’re in the city of Huntsville.