A vintage map exhibit will open at the Guntersville Museum on June 16 and will run through September 1.
The exhibit features more than 40 maps of Alabama, Marshall County, Guntersville and the Tennessee River. Highlights include:
- Maps of the southern territory prior to and after Alabama statehood.
- Early 20th century Marshall County property maps.
- Guntersville street maps prior to the lake formation.
- Civil War maps.
The maps on exhibit are from the Alabama Department of Archives & History, the Marshall County Archives, the Historical Society of Guntersville and the Guntersville Museum.
Headlining the exhibit are maps from the private collection of David Jones. David has been collecting rare maps for over 30 years with a special interest in early maps of the Tennessee River. He will lead a Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce walking tour on June 15 at 10 a.m. at the museum. David will discuss early Tennessee River history while sharing his map collection of the area. Visitors attending the walking tour will enjoy a preview of the entire exhibit.
David has long enjoyed history, especially the history of the river.
"I grew up spending my summers on the Tennessee River watching the barges come and go, and developed an interest in where they were going, and where they were coming from, and the more I read the more interested I got in the old river before TVA," David said.
"I believe my interest in maps comes from my profession as a real estate lawyer and I have been collecting maps for approximately 40 years, and probably have around 50 original old maps and probably that same number of reprints," he said.
"I like to read a lot of the early history of this area and it is helpful to have the old maps for reference. We will also use old maps in our business, such as topographic quadrangles, TVA maps, and soil conservation service maps as a resource in attempting to determine prior use and possession of property here in Marshall County."
The early Army Corps of Engineers maps have always been a particular point of interest to David.
"Navigation on the upper Tennessee was always difficult due to the shoals at Muscle Shoals," Jones said. "I think it really retarded the growth of Guntersville in the early years. In times of high water, you could get past the shoals but often you could not."
The Corps studied solutions for the shoals as early as the mid-1800s.
"River transportation for Guntersville before TVA was really transportation between here, Decatur and Chattanooga," David said.
That's why the old river maps have always fascinated him.
He's learned a great deal of history about the development of the river as an outgrowth of his interest in the old maps. His office contains many maps, photos and other river artifacts, including pieces of the old Guntersville river bridge, and is something of a museum in its own right.