Tag Archives: Tennessee River




above photo by Allyson P.

This is not the original Decatur train depot. This was built later in the Spanish style architecture. The earlier one sat closer to the Tennessee river.

June 12, 1832: Alabama’s first railroad, the Tuscumbia Railway, opens, running the two miles from Tuscumbia Landing at the Tennessee River to Tuscumbia. The railway was the first phase of a planned railroad to Decatur, forty-three miles to the east. That railroad was needed in order for river traffic to avoid the dangerous and often unnavigable Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River.

Historic Marker

Seeking a means to ship cotton and other goods around the treacherous Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River, area planters and merchants met at Courtland in 1831 to consider a rail line. On January 13, 1832, the 50-mile long Tuscumbia, Courtland & Decatur railroad was chartered. Early trains were usually horse-drawn, although an English-made steam locomotive was acquired in 1834. Absorbed by the Memphis & Charleston line after 1850, the railway was largely destroyed during the Civil War. The rebuilt railroad became part of the Southern system in 1898.



On Sunday, Patrick and I were driving around Decatur near the new Ingalls Harbour Pavillion. Which is really nice by the way. We saw an odd structure at the back of the lot. Now, Decatur has a lot of historical markers, but, this had nothing. Something as cool as this structure deserves a sign of some description, history etc. It took a lot of research to determine what it was. The Morgan county or Decatur websites had no information. It was a photo on Flickr that described it.

Beehive Brick Kiln

As we were driving, we discovered the Burleson home. It is a beautiful Greek Revival set on the Tennessee river west of Decatur.

Burleson house ( photo by Tim Carr )

The Rhea-McEntire House ( Burleson house )  is a historic antebellum Greek Revival mansion located along the shoreline of the Tennessee River in Decatu Alabama.

The house was constructed prior to 1836, and was used as headquarters by both Union and Confederate forces, alternately, during the Civil War.

In 1862, before being occupied by Federal forces, the plans for the Battle of Shiloh were laid out within this building. Because of this, the house was spared when the city was burned, leaving only 2 other buildings standing in the city.

The house was also used as the first temporary courthouse, during the construction of the first permanent courthouse in Somerville, in Cotaco County which is now Morgan County.






Cover of "Life on The Mississippi"

Cover of Life on The Mississippi

“The steamboats were finer than anything on shore — like palaces.”
Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi.

The first time I saw the Mississippi Queen on the Tennessee river, I was at a friend’s house north of Guntersville on PIne Island. Betty hollered for me to get the binoculars. There were white rocking chairs on the deck and you could hear a Calliope playing all the way down the river until you could see her no more. We must have stood at the edge of the lake for thirty minutes, just watching and listening.

The link above tells of her final demise, being turned into scrap. The condition of the boat had become deplorable, and would be too costly to renovate.

Just the thought of floating along on these grand ladies conjures up images of early life on the Mississippi. I think I will pull out a copy of Huckleberry Finn.


The Pickwick Belle is currently docked at Ingalls Harbor, Decatur, Alabama. Sounds like a fun day cruise or for a nice dinner.

Pickwick Belle

The Pickwick Belle has been based in Florence, but, is now in Decatur permanently. The beautiful twin deck Pickwick Belle riverboat is available for public and charter cruises including sight-seeing cruises, dinner cruises, private functions, and other themed cruises on Wheeler Lake and the Tennessee River.

I have lived in Decatur for six years, but, have visited here for ten. Every once in a while, you would see a riverboat docked at Rhodes Ferry Park. It is nice to have one here again.


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