The construction of the Wilson Locks and Dam flooded the rocky shoals of the Tennessee River, taming the river and making it navigable. Click here to learn more about our region's Tennessee River Heritage.
Created by prehistoric Native Americans, the Natchez Trace was a vital route for early traders and farmers. It is now a national scenic parkway. Click here to learn more about our region's Natchez Trace Heritage.
Dismals Canyon in Franklin County is one of the region's many preserved natural areas. The canyon was formed in part by prehistoric earthquakes and eroding rock. Click here to learn more about our region's Natural Heritage.
From Natchez Trace and Jackson's Highway to the invention of railroads and steamboats, transportation has always been an important asset for the Muscle Shoals region. Click here to learn more about our region's Transportation Heritage.
Founders Hall, a Greek Revival building, was constructed in the 1820s is located on the campus of Athens State University, the state's oldest college. Click here to learn more about our region's Architectural Heritage.
Evidence of pre-historic Native Americans and early Native American tribes still exist in the Muscle Shoals region. Their history is still honored in area festivals and events. Click here to learn more about our region's Native American Heritage.
Early pioneers used things they could grow or find such as cotton, corn and clay to create dolls, quilts, and pottery. Early folk art can be seen at museums in the region. Click here to learn more about our region's Cultural Heritage.
Oakville, AL-native Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His achievements are honored in an annual memorial run held in Oakville. Click here to learn more about our region's African American Heritage.
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and FAME Studio were among the top R&B recording studios in the nation, producing hits from artists Aretha Franklin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Click here to learn more about our region's Music Heritage.
North Alabama experienced many Civil War skirmishes, including the Battle of Athens and the Battle of Decatur. Old State Bank in Decatur still bears scars from the war. Click here to learn more about our region's Civil War Heritage.

Welcome to the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

Experience our cultural, natural, historical, and scenic resources. Wonderful music, beautiful rivers and great hiking trails are yours to explore!

Earn Your Passport

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Email Format

View previous campaigns.

The Tennessee River brought prehistoric American Indians to northwest Alabama about 9,000 years ago. Then, in the early 19th century, European settlers arrived. Despite subsequent population growth in the region, the river's shallow and rocky shoals discouraged economic development -- until TVA and its program of river management was established in 1933. Throughout history, the people and the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama have created a world-changing culture and produced leaders in music, literature, education, government, business and more.

The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area includes the Tennessee River basin's six counties in northwest Alabama. Its sites, buildings, homes, and artifacts tell the story of how the river and the people living alongside it have shaped our nation's history and heritage. 


Community Grants Program


Our Music Makes Us Special --

-- and we love to share! The Muscle Shoals area has been called "The Hitmaking Capital of the World," and you can explore its musical history on our Roots of American Music Trail website. The trail is a self-guided cell-phone tour of world-famous sites such as FAME Studios, 3614 Jackson Highway and W.C. Handy's birthplace. Keep your eyes open, too, when you visit our local eateries. Since we're still producing hits, you never know who's in town to record the next Grammy-winner!

Also at the Roots of American Music Trail website, read interviews and watch videos of music makers including Rick Hall, Donna Jean Godchaux McKay and Gary Baker. Learn about musical heritage that reaches back to the American Indian prescence along the Tennessee River, find out where to hear the Muscle Shoals sound performed live and buy an exclusive CD of Muscle Shoals hits. And check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest videos, news & events. It's a valuable resource for learning more about Muscle Shoals & northwest Alabama music.

Partnered with UNA.