Tuscumbia…Did You Know?

By  | August 3, 2018 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

NOTE:  Alabama celebrates her bicentennial this year.  QCDNews presents Interesting Facts about some of North Alabama’s cities.

Tuscumbia is the county seat of Colbert County. Incorporated in 1820, it is one of Alabama’s oldest towns.

U.S. senator and notable jurist Howell Heflin (1921-2005) grew up in Tuscumbia, and Robert Burns Lindsay (1824-1902), who served as governor from 1870 to 1872, spent much of his professional life in the city. Baseball star Henry Emmett “Heinie” Manush (1901-1972) was born in Tuscumbia.

Tuscumbia lies in the area of Alabama originally traversed by French traders. Between 1815 and 1817, permanent non-Indian settlers arrived. They found rich farmland and abundant game. In 1820, the federal government completed Jackson’s Military Road (named for Gen. Andrew Jackson) connecting Tennessee with Louisiana, passing through what is now Tuscumbia along the way. It became the area’s major overland transportation route. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Occocopoosa, then renamed Big Spring in 1821 and in 1822 renamed Tuscumbia in honor of a Chickasaw leader.

Town business leaders established a steamboat landing and lobbied for creation of a railroad line to bypass the shoals. The line, on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur (TC&D) Railroad, was completed in 1832; the TC&D Railroad experimented with the use of dry sand as a way to provide traction between the track and the engine’s wheels, and this practice remains in use around the world today.

Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South. During the Civil War, this made the town a major target of the Union Army, which destroyed Tuscumbia Landing and other parts of the town. After the war, Tuscumbia experienced renewed growth. In 1872, the city voted to open Spring Commons, an area that surrounded the city and included the big spring and Spring Creek to industry.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame, located on Highway 72 in Tuscumbia, highlights the musical accomplishments of Alabamians. It is open to the public throughout the year. Ivy Green, the birthplace of Helen Keller, is open to visitors throughout the year. The Helen Keller Festival takes place each June and commemorates Helen Keller’s accomplishments.

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