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Alabama tourist site with natural rock bridge up for sale

October 25, 2020 GMT

HAYLEYVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A tourist site in northern Alabama that is billed as having the longest natural rock bridge east of the Rocky Mountains is up for sale, and at least one legislator is interested in turning it into a state park.

The family that has owned Natural Bridge Park for 40 years is asking $3 million for the 149-acre site about 70 miles (113km) northwest of Birmingham, the Daily Mountain Eagle reported.

The park’s bridge is a roughly 150-foot-long (46m) rock arch that rises more than 60 feet (18m) high. The park also offers nature walks, picnic spots and a gift shop. It opened in 1954.

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David Denton, whose parents Jimmie and Barbara Denton bought the park in 1980, told the Daily Mountain Eagle his siblings are not in a position to run the park now. Jimmie Denton died in 2018.

“That was their dream was to have this park,” he said of his parents. “It’s been a great thing to have a family business and cater to the public. We’ve come to know and love a lot of people, and learned a lot. Tourism is a great thing. Yet at the same time, after 40 years it is time to pass it on and let somebody else take the next part of the journey with new energy.”

Agents handling the sale are talking to state and federal officials about buying the park, said Tim Reddock of Southeast Commercial, the broker on the deal.

“But I don’t know what the situation is with the state and their money as far as being able to afford stuff,” he said.

The agents are also reaching out to resorts and people who might be able to develop hiking trails and turn the spot into a “true destination location,” Reddock said.

State Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, said he has started the process of seeing whether the state has any interest in bringing the site into the state parks system.

“Everyone in our area is familiar with this natural wonder, as it has been in the public eye for several generations...,” he said. “I do believe it would be in the public interest to retain the park as to allow continued public access if we were able to acquire the property at a reasonable price.”