The Canebrake refers to a historical region of west-central Alabama that was once dominated by thickets of Arundinaria, a type of bamboo, or cane, native to North America. It was centered on the junction of the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers, near Demopolis, and extended eastward to include large parts of Hale, Marengo, and Perry counties. Portions of Greene and Sumter were also often included.
Cane thickets once covered hundreds of thousands of acres in Alabama, but this area, lying within the Black Belt, had the most extensive stands. It was noted by naturalist William Bartram as he traveled along the Tombigbee River in 1775. He described cane that was "thick as a man's arm, or three or four inches in diameter; I suppose one joint of some of them would contain above a quart of water."
The cane began to disappear with the large-scale arrival of white settlers following the Creek Wars. The settlers introduced crops that replaced the native cane and their suppression of fire allowed the cane in other areas to be overtaken by species that would have naturally been kept in check by fire. However, as late as 1845, Scottish geologist Charles Lyell noted the height and density of cane along the Black Warrior River.
In his account of the Canebrake region, "Chronicles of the Canebrake, 1817-1860", John Witherspoon DuBose details the early settlers.
- Hall, John C. (17 August 2007). "Canebrakes". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- "Plantation Houses of the Alabama Canebrake and their associated outbuildings (1818-1942)". Multiple Property Documentation Form. National Register of Historic Places. 8 February 1993. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- "Alabama's Canebrake". West Alabama Regional Alliance. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- Bill, Finch (15 August 2008). "Lost in the Canebrake". Press-Register. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- DuBose, John Witherspoon (Winter 1947). "Chronicles of the Canebrake, 1817-1860". The Alabama Historical Quarterly. 9 (4): 475–613.
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