FLORENCE — It was called the "river that sings" by Native Americans, and on Thursday two local historians and authors will present a history of the Tennessee River in the Shoals area.

The history from the days of the area's earliest occupants to the formation of the Tennessee Valley Authority has been captured in a book titled "The Tennessee River and Northwest Alabama."

It was written by Carolyn Barske Crawford, director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, and Brian Murphy, the curator of the Florence Indian Mound Museum.

The discussion of the book and the river takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Indian Mound Museum. The museum is waiving its normal admission fee for the event.

As part of the program, the University of North Alabama Archives and Special Collections will present the 1936 film "The Story of the Tennessee Valley and How It All Began at Muscle Shoals."

Crawford and Murphy track the river's history through European settlement, the Civil War, the construction of the Muscle Shoals nitrate plants, the creation of the TVA and into modern times.

“During the presentation, we will talk about our research process and highlight some of the images included in the book,” Crawford said.

Crawford said the publisher, Arcadia Press, approached her about doing another book after the success of her previous work on "Images of America: Florence." 

Crawford said she'd been wanting to put together a book on the river, which is one of the themes of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area.

Murphy said he spent about a year gathering information for the book from "a lot of books, a lot of military reports, archaeological reports."

"From there we branched out and contacted the local archives in other counties," he said. "We visited Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties." 

Crawford said Murphy did most of the research while she concentrated on using the information to craft the narrative. They both worked on gathering images to support the information.

Murphy said books about the river's history have always been popular, but there seems to have been increased interest recently.

"People are interested in the river for archaeological reasons, social reasons, history and its huge ties to TVA itself," Murphy said.

They also created a companion exhibit that utilizes seven interpretive panels with several images and text to chart the history of the river.

Copies of the book will be available at the museum for $24. Proceeds benefit the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area.

The companion exhibit will be on display at other locales along the river.

• Oct. 15-29 at the Muscle Shoals Library; presentation at 6 p.m., Oct. 23

• Oct. 29-Nov. 12 at the Old State Bank, Decatur

• Nov. 12-30 at Northwest Shoals Community College Library, Muscle Shoals

• Dec. 3-17 at Limestone County Archives, Athens

• Jan. 21-25 at Oakville Indian Mound, Danville; presentation at 6 p.m., Jan. 24

• Jan. 28-Feb. 11 at the Russellville Public Library

• Feb. 16 at the Tuscumbia Depot Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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