Waterway open house held

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

DEMOPOLIS- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority and local sponsors will hosted an educational public open house at the Demopolis landing geared toward the celebration of 20 years of progress along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Monday.

Pat Robbins, Legislative and Public Affairs Director for the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the display allows their guests to look at the history and changes that have surrounded the Tenn-Tom Waterway through the years. Robbins said they planned a long journey throughout the waterway to help those in the area fully appreciate what an accomplishment the project was.

“We have constructed a historical display of some of the changes that have occurred since the waterway was built,” Robbins said. “We will be making a multitude of stops this while week. We started in Mobile and then Demopolis and we are moving on the Aliceville, Columbus, Amory, Fulton and Yellow Creek. From there it is going on up to the Tennessee River because that is part of the root.”

The display has three different areas to stress the importance of the Tenn-Tom Waterway. It also focuses on the three areas of the project itself.

“We show the three separate areas and what occurred construction wise there,” Robbins said. “There are three distinct sections of the waterway. There is the river section, the canal section and then you have the divide path.”

Robbins said they also look at what the project has done for wildlife management. One such project, which was designed to aide the eagle population, was featured in National Geographic.

“The Wildlife Mitigation program that is associated with the Tenn-Tom is the largest mitigation program there is today,” Robbins said. “A lot of people do not know that.”

Industrial development along the waterway is another focus of the museum. Robbins said the project has done wonders for development.

“Recreation and tourism has grown much larger than it was when the economics to justify the waterway were done,” Robbins said. “Nobody expected it to be this big.”

Future industry is also looking good because of the project. Robbins said an announcement by Steele Corp. could have a mammoth impact.

“There have been several announcements of huge corporations coming in,” Robbins said. “Steele Corp. I think is going to be the largest industrial development project in the world.”

While the floating museum celebrates 20 years of the Tenn-Tom Waterway, Robbins said the idea for the waterway was far older that that.

“Connecting the Tennesse and Tombigbee Rivers was actually first discussed around 1765,” Robbins said. “A lot of people don’t realize they have been talking about it for that many years.”