Northern Alabama Historical Foundation Helps Keep Shoals History Alive

Northern Alabama Historical Foundation

by Robert W. Oliver II

The Shoals Area has a rich and vibrant history, and the area has recently has gained a new voice to add to the chorus of volunteers helping to celebrate this rich heritage.  The Northern Alabama Historical Foundation was founded by Evan M. Tidwell in an effort help keep the proud tradition of preserving our history alive in the Shoals.

The Ghost Bridge Demolition

Ghost BridgeThe foundation was born recently from an effort that Tidwell helped organize to prevent the demolition of Ghost Bridge in Lauderdale County.  The organization tried to take ownership of the bridge, but they unfortunately didn’t have enough time to assemble their efforts before the bridge was demolished.  There was a considerable effort on the part of the county to expedite the removal process, and it is unlikely, according to Tidwell, that a replacement bridge will ever be built as the county would have to buy back property that it gave away back in 1996.

Grace Church in Sheffield

When asked about future risks to historical locations, Tidwell said, “Grace Church in Sheffield is at risk. It needs some major stabilization to be safe. Many of the other historic buildings in Sheffield are being neglected and are deteriorating quickly. Tuscumbia has recently lost several historic structures, and there isn’t hardly anything left of old Muscle Shoals from its founding in the 1920’s.”    Tidwell hopes that the NAHF can educate people on the significance of a historic structures.

Expansion and Outreach

The Northern Alabama Historical Foundation may have had modest beginnings, but Tidwell has been in talks with other organizations across the state to plan for future expansion.  The organization is trying to share and educate the public about the wonderful history of the Shoals.  Their efforts have been focused on creating a newsletter, video tours on YouTube, creating a digital archive of historic documents and photos, and work towards publishing a series of books on the subject.

A Personal Connection

All Shoals Residents have much to gain from preserving our history, but Tidwell has a personal interest in keeping it alive.  “I love the history of the Northern Alabama Railway, so it was a tribute to the memory of that railroad. My grandfather was actually born in a NARY section house!”

How to Help

NAHF is trying to catalog the history of the Shoals, and Tidwell is scanning any documents, photos, or other artifacts in an effort to keep the history alive for future generations.  “As far as paper artifacts go, we would be happy to scan an item and let the owner keep the original,” Tidwell says.  In addition, word of mouth will encourage more interest in the foundation.  “As far as getting involved, we just need people to spread the word that we exist and we have enthusiasm.”

For more information, please visit the Northern Alabama Historical Foundation’s new website.

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