Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Monument

Black Warrior.JPG


Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway Monument


Locks (Hydraulic engineering)
Black Warrior River (Ala.)


To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway a dedication ceremony was held to unveil a 13-foot memorial marker on October 30, 2015.

The text on the marker follows:

Evolution of the Black Warrior – Tombigbee Waterway

Early River Improvements
Navigation improvements to the Black Warrior River began in 1875 with a project to clear snags, trim overhanging trees, and dredge through shoals. In 1886, the U. S. Congress authorized constructing three locks overcoming the Tuscaloosa Falls, a series of rock rapids falling 25 feet in about two miles.

On Jan 27, 1896, an event held at this site commemorated the opening of these three locks. Remnants of these locks still exist. Locks #1 and #2 are underwater – however, the stone riverbank wall of Lock #3 is visible upriver where it retains the lower terrace of The Park at Manderson Landing.

Creating the Waterway
To facilitate coal shipment, the River and Harbor Acts of 1902 and 1907 authorized various improvements to the Black Warrior and lower Tombigbee Rivers creating 17 locks and dams to provide navigation from the Port of Mobile to near Birmingham, AL.

Christening Lock #17 on May 13, 1915 marked the completion of the original Black Warrior – Tombigbee Waterway. A gala event in Tuscaloosa celebrated this occasion.

The original Black Warrior – Tombigbee Waterway incorporated Locks #1, #2 and #3 and renamed them Locks #10, #11 and #12.

The Waterway Today
The Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway provides a navigation channel nine feet deep and 200 feet wide. From its start at the foot of Water Street in Mobile, AL the waterway extends over 400 miles. Approximately 20 million tons of commerce moves on the waterway each year. Principal commodities include coal, petroleum products, wood products, and steel products.

The dams create a series of lakes offering a variety of recreational opportunities. Two of the dams provide hydroelectric power.

About the Navigational Marker
Mile “339” marks the location of the original Lock #1 which is against the river bank directly out from this mile marker. Salvaged and surplus stainless steel components from the navigation lock gates comprise the vertical elements of the mile marker.


Elizabeth Bradt


Elizabeth Bradt


November 10, 2015


Elizabeth Bradt (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

Original Format