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There is no better representation of 'Sweet Home Alabama' than the area known as The Shoals. Located in the northwestern corner of Alabama on the beautiful Tennessee River, The Shoals is rich in history and host a wide range of sites, museums and outdoor activities.

Things to See and Do

Situated along the meandering Tennessee River, at the base of the foothills of the Appalachians, is a region ablaze with beauty, bustling activity, and a rich heritage. Indian mounds, visible around the countryside, stand testament to prehistoric Native Americans who first viewed the mighty Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River. "The Shoals," as the area has come to be called, takes its name from this shallow and rocky stretch of river over which swift water fell. A cluster of distinctive cities: Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and neighboring Florence, grew to create a diverse tapestry against which history is still unfolding.

 

The first settlers came to the region, some say, as early as 1815. Traveling by keelboat, they made their way to the source of Spring Creek. These early townspeople named their new home, Tuscumbia, in honor of the Chickasaw chief who welcomed them. Cotton, grown in the 1830's in fertile farmlands of the Tennessee Valley, was exported along the first railway established west of the Alleghenies. Alabama's first college, LaGrange, was chartered here. The college was destroyed during the Civil War, but a picturesque pioneer park marks its site, and the University of North Alabama in Florence traces its origin to LaGrange. Politics of the aftermath of the Civil War resulted in the creation of Colbert County in 1867. Chickasaw chief George Colbert once operated the ferry on the Natchez Trace, which passes through the county that bears his name.

America's "First Lady of Courage," Helen Keller, was born in Tuscumbia in 1880 and her home, "Ivy Green," is visited annually by more than 50,000 people from all over the world.

 

Furnaces lit the night sky when Sheffield was established as a steel-producing center in 1885. World War I brought a new boom to the Shoals, when construction began on a large munitions plant and Wilson Dam. The city of Muscle Shoals was incorporated in 1921 when, recognizing the area's potential, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison proposed a major industrial city.

 

In the 1930's, Roosevelt's "New Deal" created the Tennessee Valley Authority and Wilson Dam became its cornerstone. Freight is carried through one of the world's highest single-lift locks, creating Wilson and Pickwick Lakes. These lakes provide world-class fishing and recreational opportunities.

 

The thriving Muscle Shoals music industry, developed by the area's talented musicians, is known around the world! The most notable of the local artists is Percy Sledge of Leighton. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia showcases Alabama's rich musical heritage. Inductees include legendary area native and "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy, whose log cabin birthplace is nearby in Florence.

Local Attractions, Festivals and Entertainment:

  • Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Tuscumbia, AL

  • Helen Keller's Birthplace, Tuscumbia, AL

  • Helen Keller Festival, Tuscumbia, AL

  • 'The Miracle Worker' Play, Tuscumbia, AL

  • Spring Park, Tuscumbia, AL

  • Coon Dog Cemetery, Tuscumbia, AL

  • Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration, Tuscumbia, AL

  • LaGrange College Site & Antebellum Cemetery, Leighton, AL

  • Recall LaGrange, Leighton, AL

  • FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, AL

  • Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail 'The Shoals', Muscle Shoals, AL

  • W.C. Handy's Birthplace, Florence, AL

  • W.C. Handy Music Festival, Florence, AL

  • Pope's Tavern Museum, Florence, AL

  • Indian Mound & Museum, Florence, AL

  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Rosenbaum House, Florence, AL

  • Natchez Trace Parkway, Colbert County, AL

  • Trail of Tears, Colbert County, AL

  • World Class Fishing, Tennessee River, AL