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River trails could be in city's future

By Michael Butler

There is a section on the Alabama Scenic River Trail website that references the Tallapoosa River in Tallassee. The river is not only scenic, it has rich history.

“Settlements like Tuckabatchee are described in the travels of William Bartram. Tallassee is the site of an Indian town that grew up around the near-endless source of easily-acquired fish that gathered below the impassible falls there,” noted the website. “The Indian trade route that stretched between Memphis and Charleston lay along the north side of the Tallapoosa. A major intersection among Indian trade routes crossed the Tallapoosa below the present-day town of Tallassee.”

After the days of Tuckabatchee, Tallassee was a manufacturing mecca for the production of cotton.  Its mills were nestled on the east and west banks of the river.

Today, a river still runs through Tallassee but with no Creek Indian village or textile mills in operation.
City leaders are still open to capitalizing on Tallassee’s great natural resource.  The bridge below the Benjamin Fitzpatrick that served as a train trestle to transport goods for the once thriving mills, is now being talked about again.

The city council was given an estimate on reopening the trestle for foot traffic.  Greg Clark of Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission presented a proposal for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).  The 80/20 grant would require a $239,802 investment by the city for the $745,137 project to rework the pedestrian bridge adding new wood decking.

The Riverwalk Extension on Lake Tallasseee was completed in 2014 with grant assistance.  Last summer, the city applied for a grant with the Recreation Trails Program.

“We put in for the grant but didn’t get it this time,” Tallassee Parks and Recreation Director Rick Golden said. “Our name is in the hat now for the grant.  The trail would run from where the old mill is down the west side of the river to AES.  I also proposed that down closer to the river that you would have a primitive hiking trail.  You would have a kiosk that would give historical information, as well as a couple of outdoor classrooms.”

Much of the area along the riverbank is owned by Alabama Power Company.  Golden said preliminary talks have been promising for the trails concept and that very little work would be required.

“It’s already cleared out.  You’d have to clean it out just a little bit.  I met and walked it with the people that do the grants.  They thought it was a good project.”

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