Waterloo Landing, located on Pickwick Lake (the former Tennessee River), was the site where, in July 1838, the 700-person Cherokee detachment led by Captain Gustavus S. Drane ended its 230-mile overland migration on the Trail Of Tears, boarded the steamboat Smelter, and left on the water route to Indian Territory. Here the party was united and set out on the eleventh aboard the steamboat SMELTER and two large double decked keel boats; the next afternoon they reached Paducah, Kentucky, where Lieutenant Deas left one of the keel boats which he found superfluous. He succeeded in mustering the Indians after a fashion and found that he had 489. (Grant Foreman, Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians, Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1956 (copyright 1932), p.291)
Captain G.S. Drane to Major General Winfield Scott — October 17, 1838
Cherokee Agency, Tennessee
17th October 1838
… on my arrival at Waterloo, Alabama I was ordered to muster the company out of the service, to discharge my teams & embark on board the Steamboat Smelter & proceed to Fort Gibson by the way of the Arkansas river, I believed that route unhealthy, & requested Gel Smith to allow me to take the route by Boonesville, Missouri, the route selected previous to the party’s leaving Ross’ Landing. I was again positively ordered to proceed by the way of the Arkansas river, on the 14th July 1838 I embarked on board the Steamer Smelter in obedience of his orders-nothing of importance occurred until the 22d July when the steamer Smelter grounded 30 miles below Little Rock, she could proceed no further owing to the low stage of the water, here I was obliged to land the party on the bank of the river, the Steamer Smelter left me early next morning, …
Waterloo Landing was a departure site for Cherokee who had been evicted from their homes and forced to head west to what is now Oklahoma. Back in 1838 this was the Tennessee River. Today the river has been dammed to create Pickwick Lake. Those leaving from this location would have been traveling by steamboat. All there is to do here is stop and read an historical marker.
Location: Main Street, just south of Pine Street
Telephone: (256) 764-3237 (Town of Waterloo)