Tuscumbia, Alabama

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Colbert County Courthouse in Tuscumbia
Colbert County Courthouse in Tuscumbia
"Charm of the Shoals" "The Town"
Location of Tuscumbia in Colbert County, Alabama.
Location of Tuscumbia in Colbert County, Alabama.
Coordinates: 34°43′51″N 87°42′10″W / 34.73083°N 87.70278°W / 34.73083; -87.70278
CountryUnited States
Incorporated (town)December 20, 1820[1]
Named forChickasaw Indian chief [2]
 • TypeMayor/Council
 • MayorKerry (Bubba) Underwood
 • Total9.26 sq mi (23.98 km2)
 • Land9.22 sq mi (23.87 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
466 ft (142 m)
 • Total9,054
 • Density982.42/sq mi (379.30/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area codes256, 938
FIPS code01-77280
GNIS feature ID0153743

Tuscumbia is a city in and the county seat of Colbert County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,423.[4] The city is part of The Shoals metropolitan area.

Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller, who lived at Ivy Green. Much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city is the site of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.


When the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816, they were the first European Americans to settle here. It was traditional territory of the Chickasaw people. The settlers traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. Other settlers joined them and there developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city.[5] The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa, a Chickasaw word meaning 'dry watermelon'.[1] It is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring[6] and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaw.[5][7][8]

Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal road completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama.[8] A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.[8]

From 1826 to the 1860s, the Tuscumbia Female Academy operated in Tuscumbia.[9] It was one of a number of private schools founded by planters and others wealthy enough to pay for the education of their sons and daughters. There were no public schools until

During the Civil War, the railroad hub made Tuscumbia a target of the Union Army, which destroyed the railroad shops and other parts of the town. The Civil War resulted in the permanent closure of the Tuscumbia Female Academy.[9]

Tuscumbia was designated as the county seat for Colbert County in 1867.[2]

A tornado, estimated at F4 intensity on the Fujita scale, struck Tuscumbia on November 22, 1874, damaging or destroying about a third of the town and killing 14 people.[10]

In April 1894, three African Americans accused of planning to commit arson were taken from the Tuscumbia jail by a mob of 200 men and lynched, hanged from the bridge over the Tennessee River.[11] The turn of the century period was the nadir of race relations in the South, with frequent violence by whites against African Americans to maintain white supremacy.

21st century[edit]

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of two tourist destinations: The Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Ivy Green at the beginning of the month of April 2020 to reduce social contact and help curb the spread of COVID-19.[12][13]


Tuscumbia is located northeast of the center of Colbert County at 34°43′51″N 87°42′10″W / 34.73083°N 87.70278°W / 34.73083; -87.70278 (34.730839, -87.702854).[14] It is bordered to the north by the city of Sheffield and to the northeast by the city of Muscle Shoals. The Tennessee River is 1 mile (1.6 km) to the northwest.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.8 square miles (22.8 km2), of which 8.8 square miles (22.7 km2) is land and 0.039 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.50%, is water.[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[16]

2020 census[edit]

Tuscumbia racial composition[17]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 6,375 70.41%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 1,991 21.99%
Native American 28 0.31%
Asian 16 0.18%
Other/Mixed 416 4.59%
Hispanic or Latino 228 2.52%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 9,054 people, 3,304 households, and 2,207 families residing in the city.

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[18] of 2010, there were 8,423 people, 3,704 households, and 2,279 families residing in the city.[4] The population density was 1,076.3 inhabitants per square mile (415.6/km2). There were 4,120 housing units at an average density of 520.7 per square mile (201.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 75.91% White, 21.16% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.48% from other races, and 1.70% from two or more races. 1.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[4]

There were 3,704 households, out of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.81.[4]

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.64% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 30.15% from 25 to 44, 19.50% from 45 to 64, and 21.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.6 males.[4]

The median income for a household in the city was $28,793, and the median income for a family was $39,831. Males had a median income of $32,159 versus $18,860 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,302. About 11.1% of families and 15.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 19.92% of those age 65 or over.[4]


Tuscumbia City Schools and the Colbert County Board of Education provide public education for Tuscumbia. The following public schools are located in Tuscumbia:

  • Deshler Area Vocational Center (grades 9 through 12)
  • Deshler High School (grades 9 through 12)
  • Colbert Heights High School (grades 7 through 12)
  • Deshler Middle School (grades 6 through 8)
  • Colbert Heights Elementary School (grades K through 6)
  • New Bethel Elementary (grades K through 6)
  • R. E. Thompson Intermediate School (grades 3 through 5)
  • G. W. Trenholm Primary School (grades K through 2)

Private schools in Tuscumbia include Covenant Christian School (grades K through 12).


Radio stations:

Major highways[edit]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b Acts Passed at the Second Session of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama. Ococoposa, Chickasaw which means dry watermelon Begun and held in the Town of Cahawba, on the first Monday in November, one thousand eight hundred and twenty (1820). Cahawba, Alabama: Printed by Allen & Brickell, State Printers in 1820. Page 94. "An Act to incorporate the town of Ococoposo in the County of Franklin...Approved, December 20, 1820."
  2. ^ a b "Our History". City of Tuscumbia Web site. Archived from the original on 23 December 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  3. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Fact Sheet- Tuscumbia city, Alabama". American Fast Facts. United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 12 February 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  5. ^ a b Deshler High School Yearbook, Tiger's Roar 1996, Volume LXVI, 175 Years Ago by John McWilliams. pg. 51
  6. ^ Acts Passed at the Called Session of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama Begun and Held in the Town of Cahawba, on the First Monday in June, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty One (1821). Cahawba, Alabama: Printed by Allen & Brickell, State Printers. Reprint by Statute Law Book Co., Washington, D.C. Nov. 1913. Page 40. "To change the name of Ococoposa, and for other purposes...Approved, June 14, 1821" Archived December 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Acts Passed at the Fourth Annual Session of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama, Begun and Held at the Town of Cahawba, On the third Monday of November, one thousand eight hundred and twenty two (1822). Cahawba, Alabama. Printed by William B. Allen and Co., Printers to the State. Jan. 1823. Page 131. "Act - Changing the name of Big-Spring in Franklin County...Approved, Dec. 31, 1822."
  8. ^ a b c Thornton, Linda (December 10, 2009). "Tuscumbia". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  9. ^ a b Isabella Margaret Elizabeth Blandin, History of Higher Education of Women in the South Prior to 1860, (New York: Washington, Neale Pub. Co., 1909), 64-65.
  10. ^ Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant tornadoes, 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Environmental Films. p. 581. ISBN 1-879362-03-1.
  11. ^ "Triple Lynching at Tuscumbia". The Atlanta Constitution. 23 April 1894.
  12. ^ "Alabama Music Hall of Fame closed during pandemic". WAFF. April 11, 2020.
  13. ^ "Popular Tuscumbia tourist attraction closed during COVID-19 pandemic". WAFF. April 5, 2020.
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  15. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Tuscumbia city, Alabama". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  17. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-13.
  18. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  19. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed. (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°43′51″N 87°42′10″W / 34.730839°N 87.702854°W / 34.730839; -87.702854