Te-lah-nay, a woman from the Yuchi Indian Tribe, was forced from her Alabama home during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s and relocated to Oklahoma. She left behind everything she knew, including the Tennessee River, which the tribe believed homed a singing woman.
As soon as she arrived in Oklahoma, she turned around to return to the “singing river,” what they called the Tennessee River, because she missed the sounds so much.
It’s folklore, a story handed down through the ages, but the Singing River nickname stuck with North Alabama, especially those who are looking to revitalize parts of the area with a 70-mile greenway trail.
John Kvach, executive director for the Singing River Trail, said the idea came when leaders at Calhoun Community College met to discuss a greenway connecting the Decatur and Huntsville campuses. That didn’t pan out, but the group broke off into another team, Launch 2035, who came up with the idea for a massive greenway connecting Athens, Decatur, Madison, Mooresvlle, Triana and Huntsville.
“Just think of a paved trail or a gravel trail for folks to use where cars won’t be on it,” John said. “It’s all for pedestrian and recreational use.”
It’s a big project. John and the team will need to raise about $100 million, but he feels it will help people and employers who are relocating to the area.
“When we’re looking at workforce development as a big part of what we’re doing in the North Alabama area is that workforce retention is equally as important,” John said. “So, once you get people down here, you want to keep them here … Something like a 70-mile greenway would give them the opportunity to have things that are different, that are nice. This is just another tool in the toolbox to get people here and keep them here.”
The first portions of the trail should be done within the next few years, but it might take close to a decade to complete the entire greenway.
You can find out more at the Singing River Trail website.