People throughout the southeast have enjoyed the cross at the long bridge for many years and it is one of the most well known landmarks any where in the area. At night, it lights up the sky and can be seen for miles around. LakeHarding.com wants to help out by letting everyone know how it is maintained as many people may not know. Funds are continually needed for maintenance costs to light the cross (power bills, repairs, etc.). The Cross Committee would appreciate any help with donations.
The monthly power bill runs $75 to $100 per month and every few years it seem we have storm damage to the cross and the repairs run from $500 to $3500. The Beulah Baptist Church years ago partnered with the cross committee and has a “Cross Fund” that is dedicated to pay the expenses and repairs to the cross. You can donate to that fund by sending a tax deductible donation to:
Beulah Baptist Church
M/F Cross Project
5500 Lee Road 270
Valley, Alabama 36854
Your participation is greatly appreciated.
History of the Cross
More than fifty years ago, Frank and L. Roy Tillery bought 14.6 acres of land in Alabama which towered 700 feet above sea level, looking down on Lake Harding just off Lee Road 379 at the long bridge. Dr. Frank Tillery, a dentist, planned to build a home on the hilltop overlooking Lake Harding, but due to water problems, he changed his mind.
Sometime later, a group of businessmen from the Chattahoochee Valley took part in a religious retreat held in Hayesville, North Carolina, and their thoughts turned to building a similar religious complex in this area. They needed an appropriate site for such a retreat, and in 1964, Dr. Frank Tillery of Columbus, along with his brother, L. R. Tillery, and sister, Mrs. M. M. Moreman of West Point, Georgia, donated to the group the 14.6 acres purchased earlier, in memory of their parents, the late John W. and Clara Smith Tillery.
Plans were drawn for the building of the non-denominational retreat in 1964. The Halawaka Spiritual Retreat Center, Inc. was to be in charge of the management and operation of the project; however, the building process was never started, apparently due to a lack of funds. In 1967, about eight years after the idea for the retreat was conceived, a cross was erected on the property. This was an effort to stimulate interest in raising funds for the project. The cross was twenty-four feet tall and twelve feet wide, and for many years served as a beacon for native travelers and curious vacationers alike, but no further progress was made on building the retreat.
Over time, the light of the cross became extinguished by vandalism, lack of attention, and normal deterioration. Even though the light of the cross had been extinguished for years, it still seemed to have deep religious significance to those who remembered it, and stories abounded of mystery lightings connected to deaths, miraculous recoveries and other spiritual events.
In 1998, through the efforts of local businesses and community residents, the cross was refurbished, and in April, 1999, it was restored to its original state and erected on the same site that it stood in 1967. The light of the cross was relatively short-lived, for just three years later, in 2001, a storm dropped the cross fifty feet to its ruin.
Today the cross stands proud and lit up due to the efforts and contributions from the local community.