Pictured is the old Tombigbee River in the river bottoms west of Fulton. The Tombigbee River begins in northern Itawamba County and is formed by Mackeys, Brown and Donnivan creeks. The river flows south through northeastern Mississippi into Alabama where it, along with the Alabama River forms the short Mobile River that empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
The circuit-riding preacher Lorenzo Dow was in the Tombigbee country during the 1790’s and early 1800’s. In his journal he wrote quite a prophetic passage: “The river Tombigbee, like the Nile, overflows once a year…and will one day become the glory of the south part of the United States as the trade of the Tennessee…will pass through it.” Today, more than 200 years later, cargo-laden barges, sailboats and yachts pass through the hills of Itawamba County daily along the old ‘Bigby Valley upon the waters of the majestic Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway east of the old river headed to and from the Port of Mobile to the south and the Tennessee River to the north.
On February 1, 1907 a speech was given in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Ezekiel Samuel Candler (1862-1941) of Mississippi. Part of his speech reads:
"I have heard its murmuring waves as they went singing their beautiful song toward the Gulf since early childhood, and they have continued to sing along the path of my life and have given me inspiration to love the beauties of nature and admire those grandeurs and those glories that come alone from the great creative hand of God above..
The Mississippi’s wide and grand,
The Suwanee’s famed in song;
The waters of the Wabash, too,
Flow merrily along;
But all their beauties pale and fade
And have no charm for me,
For I have known since childhood days
The dear Old Tombigbee!"
Photograph by Bob Franks