The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Tuscumbia Landing

What I know about Tuscumbia Landing…

or more accurately what I have learned about Tuscumbia Landing will follow. Tuscumbia was a thriving little town back in its day. It was a very wealthy town which afforded the rich to send their children away to boarding schools while the not rich’s children attended the public schools. I guess it could be said that there were the 1% and the 99%, then as now.

The Shoals area has most every natural resource to be productive including recreational pursuits. A huge boon to the economy that caused the town to explode with wealth and all that comes with it was the Landing at Tuscumbia.

Steamboats were introduced and helped make Tuscumbia a valuable port for the delivery of goods and products. It also

Historic Tuscumbia Depot

Historic Tuscumbia Depot (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

made the export of products and goods, such as cotton very efficient for the time. What is left of Tuscumbia Landing will have to be searched for by all but those intimately familiar with the area; and who know what to look for. The original Landing at Tuscumbia aided in the removal of the Creek native americans during the 1838 removal of them all to reservations in Oklahoma if they survived the trip. This was the Trail of Tears. The government mandated that all native americans be rounded up and they were marched  forcibly away from their home, culture and way of life. The original landing dated back to the 1820s and as a dock for the steamboats brought great wealth to a number of Tuscumbia and Shoals area citizens.

Tuscumbia Landing, Sheffield is at the confluence of the Tennessee River (Pickwick Lake) and Spring Creek, near the foot of Blackwell Road, west of downtown Sheffield, There is much historical significance attached to the two Landings. Tuscumbia Landing was at the western terminus of the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railway. During the summer of 1838, Cherokee detachments headed by Lt. Edward Deas and Lt. R.H.K. Whiteley attempted to travel from Ross Landing, Tennessee to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory via the “water route.” These detachments floated down the Tennessee River to Decatur. Due to low water and potential difficulties navigating through Muscle Shoals, they rode on the railway west to Tuscumbia Landing and then boarded boats headed downriver. Prior to that summer, numerous other “water route” detachments brought Creeks, Choctaws, and other groups past this spot on their way to Indian Territory. Tuscumbia Landing was also the site of considerable Civil War activity.

One reminder of the second landing  is a historical marker describing Tuscumbia Landing’s role as home to the first railroad, named the Old Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur (TC&D), west of the Appalachian Mountains. The second landing was built to be accessed by the railway system. The marker may be at the corner of Fifth and Water.

Tuscumbia Landing played many roles in the surface transportation system throughout its history. In addition to its role in the removal of the Creeks on the Trail of Tears, Tuscumbia Landing served as a steamboat landing beginning in the 1820s. The original landing was located two miles from the town. Initially connected to the town of Tuscumbia via a wagon road, the Landing became an even more important transportation node when the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company built a railroad and depot that connected the Landing to the town of Tuscumbia in 1932. Perhaps it was then that a

Pier remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing

All that remains of what was once Tuscumbia Landing are some limestone pilings that once held up the pier.

second landing was constructed up river from the original one.  That same year, the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad united with the Tuscumbia Rail Road Company, and the railroad spur to Decatur was completed in 1834. The site’s significance proved to be its downfall when the railroad depot was destroyed during the Civil War.

Remnants of the limestone blocks used for a pier for steamboat arrival and departure are all that remain of the original landing dock. If you did not know what to look for, you may not recognize the landing’s importance in Shoals area history.

Northwest-Shoals Community College’s Tuscumbia Landing archaeological research and planning projects with government funding and with myriad connections to surface transportation, project coordinators were able to assemble TE funds to identify remaining historically significant archaeological features. Perhaps future research might include NWSCC findings. Tuscumbia Landing was named a Certified Historic Site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 2007.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.

Historic marker commemorating the first railroad. The Landing of Tuscumbia first serviced steamboats and later a second landing serviced the railway system.