Alabama River Heritage Museum, operated by Monroe County Heritage
on the banks of Claiborne Lake, adjacent to the
Claiborne Lock and Dam
about 20 miles north of Monroeville, Alabama. In addition to the
museum, you can see the lock and dam up close, walk the shores of the
beautiful Alabama River, enjoy the riverside picnic area and last but
not least, check out the very popular Isaac Creek Campgrounds. Kinda
like one-stop shopping.
The Alabama River Heritage Museum has a fantastic collection of
ancient fossils and Native American artifacts found in Monroe County,
and specifically the world-famous Claiborne Bluff, that provides a
better explanation of the early
inhabitants. There are exhibits that immortalizes the Steamboat Era,
miniature replica of the Nettie Quill, a steamboat which
traveled the Alabama River.
The fossils on display are from the Gosport Sand, a layer of Southeast
rocks in the earth's crust noted for its concentration of
fossils. The sandy environment aids the preservation of these fossils.
Sir Charles Lyell, of England, father of modern Geology and friend of
Charles Darwin, visited Alabama in
1846, in part to see this 60 million
year old shallow-water sea floor of Eocene age. The Gosport Sand,
uppermost formation of the Claiborne fossils are known and studied by
geologists world-wide. Examples of these fossils are found in Natural
around the world.
The River Heritage Museum's collection spans thousands of years from
pre-history tribes to the Creek Indians who were located in Monroe
County until the Removal of 1834 by President Andrew Jackson, better
known as the Trail of Tears.
The picture to the right is
of the Claiborne Lock and Dam located behind the museum.
Monroe County Native American Life and Culture exhibits include
(arrowheads and weapons), pottery shards, as well as, tools and
clothing traditionally used by these Native Americans. There
are hundreds of Native American sites
throughout the area; camp sites, kill sites and village sites. Artifacts are being unearthed every year in plowed fields and creek
A tremendous collection of artifacts, discovered during the
excavation and building of the Claiborne Lock and Dam were donated
by R. B. Williams, III, former owner of the land.
The Alabama River Museum hosts the annual Alabama River
Festival each March at the
Claiborne Lock & Dam. A number of demonstrators and re-enactors
join in to create a frontier encampment as found in the late 1700s and
early 1800s. You can experience a frontier settlement, a trading
post, a log cabin construction and
hunting and fishing camps.
You can learn more about Creek
Indian culture by participating in face painting, hatchet throwing,
story telling, stickball games and the traditional Stomp Dance.
It is a fantastic museum designed so you can browse at your own pace
and enjoy the various exhibits. The only drawback to the museum is
the fact that its operating hours
are limited. But, you can enjoy the rest of the sights year round.
So plan your trip accordingly!
From Monroeville, take Highway 41 North and go 8 miles. Turn
left onto County Road 17. You need to pay attention for this
cut off. It will bear left at about a 11 o'clock direction. There
will be a sign at the intersection on left side of Highway 41 that
reads "... Campground". I was looking for sign that said lock and
dam. So after I turned around about 10 miles up the road and
came back, I made the correct turn. Follow the signs to the
Claiborne Lock and Dam and River Museum. (Total mileage
from Monroeville: 20 miles)
Claiborne Lake is a river-run reservoir with 5,930
surface acres of water which courses 60.5 miles through Wilcox,
Clarke, and Monroe counties in southwest Alabama. This reservoir was
constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and impounded in
Claiborne Lake has a large watershed of 21,473 square
miles, and its primary function is navigation. This reservoir is the
lowermost within the Alabama River System with
the dam at river mile 72.5 and the pool ending at river mile 133,
the Millers Ferry Lock and Dam.
Downstream of Claiborne Dam, the Alabama River is
essentially free-flowing and ultimately joins the Tombigbee River to
form the Mobile River near the Mt. Vernon community.
March - October
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Alabama River Heritage Museum
Claiborne Lock & Dam
31 Isaac Creek Rd.
Franklin, AL 36444