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Near Killen in Lauderdale County, Alabama — The American South (South Central)
 

Killen and the Canal System

 
 
Killen and the Canal System Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, October 28, 2019
1. Killen and the Canal System Marker
Inscription.  Two hundred feet from where you are, in 40 feet of water, are the remains of Lock Six, the headquarters for a locking system of 9 locks that provided river traffic around the rapids and shoals. The river fall of 136 feet in about 37 miles prevented an easy flow of commerce form the Appalachian area to the interior of the country. Early in our history from President James Monroe forward, most all our leaders recognized that the Shoals area was a major obstacle to the growth of our nation. In 1824 surveys were conducted and resulted in the construction of a canal system that opened in 1836. The system included 17 locks, 120 feet long and 32 feet wide. Rains and floods washed debris into the canals. The control of the inflowing creeks into the system and the lack of maintenance funds forced the canal to close in 1848. After the Civil War, beginning in 1875, additional surveys of the Shoals area were conducted to determine the possibility of another canal. The Army Corps of Engineers was in charge of new canal construction. Most of the stones for the construction came from the Brooks Plantation, now Brooks Acres and Saddle Brook. The new canal was
Killen and the Canal System Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, October 28, 2019
2. Killen and the Canal System Marker
widened and the locks were reduced to 9, with Lock Six at the headquarters site. There were numerous Engineers in charge of the Muscle Shoals Canal. Among them was Lt. G. W. Goethals, later known for building the Panama Canal. The canal ran for 14 1/2 miles from Lock One near Rogersville to Lock Nine near Florence. The 9 locks had a lift total of 85 feet. An aqueduct 900 feet long and 60 feet wide was built above Shoals Creek. The canal opened on November 10, 1890. The headquarters of Lock Six had a significant impact on the development and growth of Killen. Many workers and suppliers lived in the Killen area. The headquarters area featured fine two-story homes, a post office, a store, and about 40 other assorted buildings. The locks were equipped with a telephone and a railroad. The locomotive #5 is still under the water.

The improvements of the new canal were helpful but were not totally satisfactory. Fortunately, during the 28 years (1890-1918)of the canal operation, technological developments were made to use the river for the production of electricity. The drop in elevation of the Tennessee River now became an asset. Electrical power could be generated in the Shoals area. Improvements in flood control and greatly improved navigation would be additional assets for the high dam construction. The Wilson Dam was built, and by 1924 the entire canal system was flooded

Muscle Shoals Tennessee River Blue Water and Shoals Creek Divisions image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, October 28, 2019
3. Muscle Shoals Tennessee River Blue Water and Shoals Creek Divisions
by the lake created by the dams backwater. Before the water covered the loss, all the buildings were demolished. Lumber from the dismantled buildings was used in some of the houses built in Killen in the early 1920s. From the era of the Canal, all that remains are the drill marks on the rock lifts along the north side of the river. When there is a dry year and the water elevation is low, tops of a few canal walls can be seen. Those who built the canal and the heritage they left for us will be remembered and appreciated.
 
Erected 2010 by Written by: William and Marylin Dean and Ronald Pettus Authorized by: Killen Historical Commission.
 
Location. 34° 50.561′ N, 87° 32.354′ W. Marker is near Killen, Alabama, in Lauderdale County. Marker is on 6 Pence Rd. From US 72 in Killen take CR 63(Lock 6 Rd) to CR 465 right to 6 pence Rd right to Boat Dock. Marker is located in the parking lot near the pier. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Killen AL 35645, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Muscle Shoals Canal (approx. one mile away); Town of Killen (approx. 1.2 miles away); Tate Springs Estate Early 1800s (approx. 3.1 miles away); Center (Centre) Star (approx. 5 miles away); Wilson Family Cemetery 19th Century / Slave Cemetery 19th Century
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(approx. 5.2 miles away); World War I Memorial (approx. 5.2 miles away); World War II Memorial (approx. 5.2 miles away); The Korean War (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Killen.
 
Also see . . .
1. George Washington Goethals. During the Spanish-American War he served as Chief of Engineers in the Volunteer Army, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was later placed in charge of the Muscle Shoals canal construction on the Tennessee River and also built canals near Chattanooga, Tennessee and at Colbert Shoals, Alabama. (Submitted on October 31, 2019, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA.) 

2. United States Army Corps of Engineers. The corps' mission is to "Deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation's security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters. (Submitted on October 31, 2019, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA.) 
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesRoads & VehiclesWar, US Civil
 

More. Search the internet for Killen and the Canal System.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 1, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 31, 2019, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 56 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 31, 2019, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
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