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Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway

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General Information

Description - The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is an alternate route to the Gulf of Mexico. The Waterway provides a habitat for the local ecology as well an excellent source for outdoor recreation.

Attractions - The Tombigbee River was originally navigable by early shallow-draft steamboats from Mobile Bay to Cotton Gin Port, Mississippi. From Chattanooga, Tennessee, it is only 100 river miles down the Tennessee River to Pickwick Lake in northern Alabama. But to ship goods from there to an ocean port, such as New Orleans, it would have been another 1800 miles via the Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. As part of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1946, the U.S. Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan for a canal between the Tennessee and the Tombigbee Rivers. Such a water connection could cut the distance between the developing industries of the mid-south and the ocean ports on the Gulf of Mexico by over 800 miles.

By 1951 construction of the Federal Interstate Highway system had begun. As a result, Congress felt a canal was unneeded and they withdrew their authorization. Between 1956 and 1960 local Congressmen realized the need to invigorate the regional economy. They funded a new study to analyze benefits and cost for such a canal. In 1958 Alabama and Mississippi established the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority to provide local initiative. The economic report these agencies wrote in 1961 was favorable. Based on that report, Congress accepted the older U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans, but not until 1971 were funds appropriated for the waterway.

These passages are excerpts from the book, Yesterday's River, The Archaeology of 10,000 Years Along The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, 1991 by David S. Brose, Chief Curator of Archaeology for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is subdivided into three sections-the Canal, the Divide and the River section.

Recreation - The Tenn-Tom Waterway is an outdoor enthusiasts' paradise. From picnicking, fishing and camping to all forms of boating and hunting, the Tenn-Tom has it all. The river section of the waterway stretches from Demopolis, Alabama north to Amory, Mississippi and encompasses 149 miles and four locks and dams, Howell Heflin Lock, Tom Bevill Lock, John C. Stennis Lock, and Aberdeen Lock.

Climate - Mississippi lies mainly in the subtropics. The climate is mild with the coldest months experiencing low temperatures near 40 degrees F. Summer temperatures frequently reach 100 degrees F, with coastal breezes providing cooling relief. Humidity is highest in August and September reaching an average close to 90%. The highest rainfall comes during the spring months, but December and January are wet, too. Expect temperatures in the northeastern region to be somewhat cooler than the rest of the state.

Location - Starting in the northeast corner of the Mississippi/Tennessee border, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway flows south along the eastern edge of Mississippi until it crosses the border into Demopolis, Alabama.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, 3606 WEST PLYMOUTH RD. , COLUMBUS, MS, 39701-9504, Phone: 601-327-2142
, alice.f.coburn@sam.usace.army.mil

Additional Information:
Alabama Lakes & Reservoirs - Alabama's lakes and reservoirs includes everything from large reservoirs of thousands of acres to small several acre ponds.
Hills Region - The northeastern hills stretch from the edge of the Mississippi River Delta to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Mississippi Lakes and Reservoirs - The lakes and reservoirs listed here range from huge reservoirs covering over 60,000 acres, to small lakes tucked away in the Mississippi back woods.
Pines Region - The Pines Region encompasses the east-central portion of Mississippi, with the Alabama border forming its eastern boundary. It encompasses the areas surrounding the cities of Meridian and Columbus, west to Winona and Forest.
Starkville Area - Starkville, in Oktibbeha County, is located in the northeast region of Mississippi. There are many opportunities for recreation near the Mississippi State college town of Starkville, Mississippi.
Tupelo Area - Tupelo is located in the northeastern region of Mississippi. Tupelo features the varied terrain of the Appalachian foothills, as well as the headquarters of the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway.


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