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Tombigbee River Bluffs

The Black Warrior-Tombigbee Lake system is home to six beautiful lakes. They include Bankhead, Holt, Oliver, Warrior, Demopolis, and Coffeeville.  The lakes stretch from the headwaters near Birmingham, AL, south through Tuscaloosa and Demopolis to the southernmost Corps facility located below Coffeeville. 

         Demopolis Lock and Dam Aerial

The lakes are part of the larger Black Warrior & Tombigbee Waterway system which serves commercial navigation purposes, as well as providing hydropower and recreational opportunities.  The river system's ultimate destination is a confluence with the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile.

         Holt Lock and Dam Aerial

Today, the beautiful waters of the lakes provide many recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, and enjoying the many day use parks.  For more information on recreational opportunities click on our "Calendar of Events" to see what types of recreation is available in that area.

BLACK WARRIOR & TOMBIGBEE LAKES STATISTICS

  • Water Area -  39,800  acres
  • Land Area with easements -  90,506  acres
  • Length of Waterway -  457 miles 
  • Waterway lift -  257 feet

 


 

N 32.51588 W 87.87399

384 Resource Management Dr
Demopolis, AL 36732-1546
Office (334) 289-3540
Fax: (334) 289-3193

Welcome to Demopolis Lake Visitor Center. We are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., closed on all Federal holidays. We have small exhibits in the lobby for interpretive viewing. Included are wall hangings which tell the story of the Black Warrior & Tombigbee Waterway, as well as Wildlife models of several different species that can be found in the area. We also have a large conference room that can be used for Wildlife, Water Safety, and other Environmental programs. While at the visitor center you can pick up some area maps and attractions brochures and to help you navigate the BW&T project. You can also reserve shelters, obtain permits, and plan events at the visitor center. If you have any questions just ask, and our staff will be glad to help.

Outside the Demopolis Site Office

Inside the Demopolis Site Office


N 33.25179 W 87.44791

11911 Holt Lock and Dam Road
Peterson, Alabama 35478
Office (205) 553-9373
Fax: (205) 556-3908

Welcome to Holt Lake Visitor Center. We are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., closed on all Federal holidays. Along with a great view of the river and lock and dam, the facility also houses a downstairs interpretive center.

While at the visitor center you can pick up some area maps and attractions brochures and to help you navigate the BW&T project. You can also reserve shelters, obtain permits, and plan events at the visitor center. If you have any questions just ask, and our staff will be glad to help.

Inside the Holt Resource Office

Inside Holt Resource Office


Burchfield Branch Campground
(205) 497-9828
15036 Bankhead Road
Adger, AL 35006

Deerlick Creek Campground
(205) 759-1591
12421 Deerlick Road
Tuscaloosa, AL 35406

Rocky Branch Park
(205) 554-1684
13710 Rocky Branch Road
Brookwood, AL 35444

Jennings Ferry Campground
(205) 372-1217
1001 Jennings Ferry Road
Akron, AL 35441

Forkland Campground
(334) 289-5530
1365 Forkland Road
Forkland, AL 36740

Foscue Creek Campground
(334) 289-5535
1800 Lock and Dam Road
Demopolis, AL 36732

Service Park Campground
(251) 753-6935
451 Service Park Road
Silas, AL 36919


 

The Black Warrior and Tombigbee Rivers merge with the Alabama River near McIntosh, Alabama to form the Mobile River. It in turn empties into Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The rugged terrain in the upper reaches of the Black Warrior is characterized by high ridges and deep river gorges. The upper Tombigbee basin is hilly but below the fall line it is low and gently rolling like the coastal region of the Black Warrior.

Historical Photo of a Paddlewheeler

 

The Black Warrior basin has abundant natural resources and is one of the most highly industrialized areas in the Southeast. The Tombigbee basin is primarily agricultural.The two rivers have played a vital part in development of their basins. First explorers, then traders and settlers used the rivers as water highways. The settlement of the town of Mobile was successful largely because of its ideal location to serve as a port of the inland river system.In the nineteenth century, cultivation of cotton and invention of the paddlewheel steamboat stimulated trade on the rivers. But hazards such as sandbars, fallen trees and shoals impeded navigation.

Historical Photo of Building a Lock

 

In 1875, the first plans to improve the rivers for navigation were approved.Between 1895 and 1915, a system of 17 locks and dams was constructed between Mobile and Birmingham. In those days, waterway construction was a slow and laborious task. Dams were built by hand of stone and mortar. Locks were walled with stone-filled timber cribs, and hauling was done by mule-power.The original locks and dams were built to provide a six-foot-deep channel, adequate for the steam-powered tow boats and packets of the era. The Corps undertook a program to modernize the system in 1937. The 17 low-lift locks were replaced by six high-lift locks, capable of expediting present-day towboats and barges. The locks vary in maximum lift from 22 to 69 feet. The nine-foot navigation channel is maintained to a width of 200 feet. Tows of up to eight standard barges can be accommodated at all locks.

The waterway is now approximately 457 miles long. All of the original locks and dams have been replaced except for John Hollis Bankhead Dam on the Black Warrior near Birmingham. The structures at Bankhead were the last of the original locks and dams built on the system. Bankhead dam has been modernized and a new lock has been constructed to make it comparable in efficiency to the other locks and dams in the system.


Coffeeville Lake

Coffeeville Lake is the third largest lake in the system with a surface area of 8,800 acres and a length of 97 miles. A modern campground has been developed at Service Park just west of the town of Coffeeville. The Corps has licensed approximately 4,000 acres on Coffeeville lake to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is managed primarily for migratory waterfowl. Several areas are day use also located on Coffeeville Lake.


Bird on Demopolis Spillway

Located near Demopolis, AL, at the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee River, Demopolis Lake is the largest lake in the Black Warrior-Tombigbee system. The lake extends 48 miles upriver on the Black Warrior and 53 miles up the Tombigbee and covers 10,000 acres. Two modern campgrounds and many day use facilities, as well as primitive camping areas, are available on Demopolis Lake. There is also a large, full service marina at Demopolis.

The region around Demopolis Lake provides excellent hunting. The Corps manages 1400 acres for public hunting and leases another 6400 acres to the Alabama Department of Conservation for a state wildlife management area. Wildlife and forest management programs have enhanced the habitat in these areas and game is plentiful. Permits are required to hunt in both areas.

The holiday season begins each year with a week of special activities called "Christmas on the River." This annual Demopolis tradition is climaxed by a night time parade on the river which is viewed by huge crowds from the white bluff above the Tombigbee River. A spectacular display of fireworks illuminates the sky above a majestic procession of brightly lighted and brilliantly decorated floats on the water below. It's an extravaganza that homefolks and visitors await eagerly each year.


Warrior Lake

Warrior Lake, located six miles from Eutaw, AL, has a surface area of 7,800 acres and a length of 77 miles. Armistead I. Selden Lock and Dam was completed in 1962. Facilities on the lake include primitive camping, boat launching and day use.

Mound State Monument is located on the lake at mile 303.4. Forty Indian temple mounds rise from a bluff overlooking the Black Warrior. The area is maintained by the State of Alabama as a state park and features a village site, burial grounds and a museum.

The Corps of Engineers provide seven (7) day use parks for use by the public. These parks provide the public with a variety of recreational opportunities and easy access to the water. There are facilities for boaters, sightseers and picnickers.


Railroad Bridge on Oliver Lake

 

* (NOTE: There are no parks or boat ramps operated by the Corps of Engineers on Oliver Lake, however, there are two Corps parks adjacent to Oliver Lock and Dam denoted on the Warrior Lake map below.)

Oliver Lake was formed by the construction of the William Bacon Oliver Lock and Dam. The Lake is nine miles long with approximately 1,000 surface acres. Recreational development is limited to boat launching facilities and day use areas which are located within the Tuscaloosa city limits and managed by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority.


Holt Lake

Holt Lake is a narrow winding body of water which stretches for 18 miles and encompasses 3,200 surface acres. The lake lies six miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Holt Lake was formed by the damming of the Black Warrior River at mile 347.0. Construction of the lock and dam was completed in 1966.

Recreational development provides opportunities for water related and other outdoor recreation for the public. Corps managed facilities include camping areas from primitive to highly developed with park attendants for security and information, water and electric hookups, and a camper washhouse. For the day user, there are several areas with facilities for boaters, swimmers, picnickers, hikers, and sightseers. There are two privately manage marinas on Holt Lake for boat docking and storage.

Bald eagles visit the lake in the winter. It is not unusual to spot the majestic birds along and above the lake shore from November to February.


Bankhead Lake

(No Lake Map Available)

Bankhead Lake is the most northern project on the Black Warrior-Tombigbee river system. The lake's clear waters stretch for 65 miles and encompass 9,100 surface acres. This includes the Locust and Mulberry forks to the head of navigation.

All development on the lake is either privately owned or commercial. There are several marinas and fish camps along the lake that provide boat docking and storage, fueling facilities, boat repairs, launching ramps, food, and supplies.

The shoreline of Bankhead Lake is privately owned. Because of this, there is extensive shoreline development. A major portion of this development is privately owned homes. There are several marinas and fish camps along the lake that provide boat docking and storage, fueling facilities, boat repairs, launching ramps, food and supplies. The Corps of Engineers does not have developed recreation areas on Bankhead Lake.


N 33.216093 W 87.564320

101 21st Avenue
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
Office (205) 752-3571


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