“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Decatur in Morgan County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

Our History

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


— Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge —

Our History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 9, 2018
1. Our History Marker
Trail of Tears:
The discovery of gold in Georgia and thirst for land expansion prompted the U.S. Government and white communities to force the Cherokee nation from their ancestral lands. During the summer and winter of 1838, the first three detachments driven west traveled by water on the Tennessee River from Ross's Landing near present-day Chattanooga. They followed the river through Alabama and West Tennessee before merging with other rivers and eventually arriving in Oklahoma.

TVA Act:
In May of 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act creating the TVA. The Tennessee Valley Authority was designed to modernize the region, using experts and electricity to combat problems in the area. A primary part of the plan was to produce electricity and provide flood relief by constructing a series of dams along the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

TVA Comes to Town:
TVA acquired land in the middle third of the valley in 1934-35 to serve as a bed for and buffer around Wheeler Reservoir. Interested individuals and organizations urged
Our History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 9, 2018
2. Our History Marker
that the government take advantage of the newly constructed reservoir to replace waterfowl habitat.

An Experiment:
On July 7, 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt set aside the middle third of the new reservoir as an experimental national wildlife refuge to see if multi-purpose reservoirs could be made attractive to waterfowl. The reservoir and new refuge were named for General Joseph Wheeler who lived near Decatur.

Rachel Carson's 1962 classic, Silent Spring, documented the serious environmental problems caused by pesticide pollution, including those in the Flint Creek Watershed. In the late summer of 1950, farmers experiencing a very wet season, reapplied pesticides to their crops multiple times because they kept washing off in the frequent rains. These high volumes of pesticides washed into Flint Creek, killing most of the fish.

Here and Now:
Impacted greatly by its controversial history, this section of the Tennessee River and Flint Creek are vastly different from what they were over 170 years ago when the Cherokee traveled west. Industries have sprung up, dams have been built, commercial water traffic is considerable, and recreational boating facilities have developed. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few areas remaining along the river that is dedicated to conserving
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the character of our wild and natural heritage.
Erected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentHorticulture & ForestryMan-Made FeaturesParks & Recreational Areas.
Location. 34° 33.208′ N, 86° 56.761′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Alabama, in Morgan County. Marker is on Wheeler Wildlife Boat Launch north of Alabama Route 67, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2110-2170 AL-67, Decatur AL 35603, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Recreation and Refreshment (approx. 3˝ miles away); Health and Civic Welfare (approx. 3˝ miles away); Social and Cultural Opportunities (approx. 3˝ miles away); Carolyn Cortner Smith (approx. 3.6 miles away); Beauty and Hope (approx. 3.6 miles away); Albany (approx. 3.7 miles away); St. John's Episcopal Church (approx. 3.9 miles away); The Decatur Daily (approx. 4.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
Also see . . .  Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Submitted on January 30, 2018.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 30, 2018. It was originally submitted on January 25, 2018, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 170 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 25, 2018, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Jul. 2, 2020