Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

Sun setting on lake with two silhouetted boats and silhouetted trees.
Wheeler Lake, Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

Mary Carton Photo

Quick Facts
The Tennessee River brought the early Native Americans and then the European settlers. For years, it frustrated those who tried to cross it or tame it. Men fought from its banks and others found power from its waters. It created a culture. It shaped a region. The region’s sites, buildings, and relics whisper tales of some of the nation’s biggest moments and how the river played a role in each.
National Heritage Area
The only National Heritage Area in Alabama, Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA) preserves and promotes cultural heritage in six counties of the Tennessee River basin. Muscle Shoals NHA aims to promote cultural tourism through education, preservation and conservation with a focus on American Indian themes, music and the Tennessee River.

MSNHA began as a grassroots effort in the early 2000s as local communities wanted to strengthen the relationship between the area’s cultural aspects and quality of life. A study of the region’s cultural heritage targeted opportunities for coalition building, established an inventory of assets, and identified nationally significant stories. In 2001, Alabama Rep. Robert "Bud" Cramer introduced legislation directing the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of establishing the heritage area. President George W. Bush signed the legislation into law in 2002, and Congress approved the designation in 2009. From its beginning, the MSNHA has been connected with the University of North Alabama (UNA), in Florence. The university houses MSNHA administrative offices and serves as its fiduciary. In addition, MSNHA staff works closely with UNA’s history department, partnering with public history students on projects and research.

This Heritage Area includes the following sites:

Last updated: April 30, 2019