Monday, June 29, 2015

Loving the The Shoals in Northern Alabama…

The Shoals, AL 001The 35 mile drive northeast to Heritage Acres RV Park in Tuscumbia, Alabama was pretty easy. We had hoped to stay at McFarland Park in Florence, Alabama about 6 miles further but it was booked because of the Helen Keller Festival happening this weekend. We were sad not to have a site overlooking the Tennessee River and had to settle for a gravel lot overlooking a grassy meadow. It is a nice park but we would have preferred staying at McFarland.


There are four little towns with lots of history here in Northern Alabama known collectively as the Quad Cities or The Shoals. They are Sheffield, Muscle Shoals, Tuscambia and Florence. As a result there was lots of interesting architecture and plenty of historic plaques of interest to see as we walked around each of the little towns.

Red Bay Alabama 083Red Bay Alabama 079

Sheffield is a small town and the oldest of the four here. In 1815, General Andrew Jackson and his troops crossed the Tennessee River at this place. By 1885 the area originally known as York Bluff was incorporated as Sheffield, Alabama. In the 1950’s though a lot of top songwriters and entertainers had records made at Jackson Highway Studio and in a nearby Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

The Shoals, AL 008

The town of Muscle Shoals got its name from the abundance of mussels in the area and the fact that the natives said it required a lot of muscle to paddle a canoe through the shoals in the are. However, founded in 1923, it is more widely known for it music recording studios. At the FAME Studios singers such as Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding recorded there and at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio singers such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones cut vinyl.

Tuscumbia is best known as the birth place of Helen Keller, born on June 27, 1880. While we were in town they were hosting the annual Helen Keller Festival. We attended the festival a bit on Saturday seeing lots of vendors selling crafts and food items. There was a decent music lineup and the setting at Spring Park where the man made waterfall and large pond with geese made it nice visit.


Florence, Alabama is the largest of the four towns and is the only one north of the Tennessee River. The downtown area of Florence has been revitalized and is a nice place for a historical stroll. Just north of town is the University of Northern Alabama. The oldest state chartered institution in Alabama is a small yet picturesque university and it even has its own zoo… well actually it has a lion enclosure for its lion mascots.


There is a lot of neat things to do and to see in and we were able to walk around each of these small towns. We are glad we spent some time here exploring The Shoalsl. We even got in a good game of disc golf at McFarland Park and visited the only brewery in Florence, Singing River Brewery. But, on Monday we headed on down the road a bit further northeast. We plan to stay at a friends farm for a few days before heading over to a state park to hide out for the fourth of July…


  1. Very interesting Heyduke. I've never heard of either the shoals or The Helen Keller Festival. That might have been interesting to see what do they do to celebrate her specifically or is it just another tourist grab? Hide out for the 4th is always a great idea.

  2. Thanks for all the great info. This is an area of Alabama we haven't explored yet. Sounds like a lot fo fun:) That is an amazing face on that Blue Grosbeak. Super photo!

  3. Looks like a good place to visit.