Tuscumbia Landing was located 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 had brought Creeks, Choctaws, and other groups past this spot on their way to Indian Territory.
Cherokees traveling west on the “water route” of the Trail of Tears via the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers had to disembark their steam ships in Decatur, AL and travel overland on the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad since the shoals in the area were not navigable. The Cherokees’ arrival at Tuscumbia Landing by train on March 9 and 10, 1837 was reported in two separate accounts in the March 17 edition of The North Alabamian:
“This much and ever-to-be-pitied Tribe are now on their way to their new home west of the Mississippi. They were detained at our Landing some days, awaiting the departure of the steamboat which was to bear them on their journey from the land and the graves of their fathers; and during that time numbers of them, old and young, visited our town, and excited universal admiration, by their correct and orderly deportment, and the sympathy which their hard fate naturally suggested to the minds of our citizens. In these visits, as well as in their conduct at the ‘camp,’ I remarked indications of their rapid advance towards the better traits of civilized life, which few of our people have given them credit for, and at which I was equally surprised and pleased.”
During the Civil War, the landing was heavily damaged in April 1862 by Colonel John Basil Turchin’s troops; it was completely destroyed by General Grenville M. Dodge in April 1863, in the lead-up to Streight’s Raid. Following the war, Florence became the port of choice in the Shoals, as the warehouses at Tuscumbia were never rebuilt. The site contains six limestone foundations of the main depot along the river, as well as foundation walls of a terminal at the top of a bluff and the remnants of a wagon road. The depot was built in 1832, and was three stories tall. A floating wharf was connected to the uppermost floor of the building, while the two lower floors were used for storage.
Latitude: 34.7487002 Longitude: -87.7264193
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