History – Florence Barge Canals

While doing a little research at the library this week I ran across some history about Pickwick and the canal systems.

Before TVA took over the operations of the Tennessee River there were canals all up and down the river from Florence because of the Mussel Shoals also called Muscle Shoals. These were not navigational sections of the river because of the low water over these rocks and the rapid descent of this portion of the river.

After the dam was built and the shoals inundated there were a series of canals that were built up to Wilson Dam. When the original two stage lock was built the original canal shown in light blue below was used to get to the locks. But after the start of construction on the new larger single lift lock the canal was rerouted up to the original lock.

In the above photo you can see the all three canals that were used during the new lock construction. The canal colored yellow above is now closed on both ends and is in the middle of Patton Island. The one in blue is now the location of the Florence Port or what we called Fuzzy Feeds canal.In the above photo you can see where the canals were dammed off and the other canals rerouted.Here you can see a photo of all three of the canals in this aerial view photo. You can also see the construction of the new larger and longer single lift lock.

In this photo you can see where Dam #1 was located and also the new existing canal. If you notice you can see the old swing railroad bridge that was used for the trains crossing the river into Florence from Colbert County.

In this photo you can see that the Dam #1 was removed and the existing lift canal is still in place.

 In this final photo you can see that the swing bridge was replaced with the lift bridge for the railroads. This bridge was also removed and all railroad traffic was stopped crossing the river into Florence.