Guntersville Navigation Lock

Nashville District
Published Jan. 11, 2024

Guntersville Lock is located at Tennessee River mile 349, nine miles downstream from the city of Guntersville, Alabama.

It is 75.3 miles downstream from Nickajack Lock and 74.1 miles above the Wheeler Locks.

Lock History

Construction of the auxiliary lock began in December 1935 and was put into operation in 1937  by TVA.  Work on the main lock began in March 1963.  It was put into operation in 1965.

Area History

The Guntersville Lock was constructed near the site of the Cherokee village of Tali.  Early records show that Hernando DeSoto visited this area in 1540.  In 1785, John Gunter, a Welshman, moved here from North Carolina to trade with the natives.  He took a Cherokee wife and collected a large fortune.
Gunter began operating a ferry across the Tennessee River in 1820, leading the area to be known as Gunter's Landing.  Andrew Jackson once camped at Gunter's Landing while fighting the Creek Indians.  He persuaded Dick Brown and Edward Gunter to recruit a group of Cherokee to aid him.  The resulting action served as the prelude to the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, where Jackson handed a final defeat to the Creek Nation.  Later, Jackson also built a wagon road to the area so he could transport supplies to Southern battles.  This later became known as the Jackson Trail and was the main travel artery to the southern region for more than a century.
In 1835, just a year before his death, John Gunter built the area's first painted house.
Gunter's Landing's first educational facility was a Presbyterian mission school.  It was located on the old Creek Path used by the tribe to reach their hunting grounds.  Dick and Catherine Brown, half Cherokee, served as teachers at the school, and Dick even served as an interpreter for Sequoia, the developer of the Cherokee alphabet.
Louis Wyeth came to Guntersville, Alabama from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1837.  He made Guntersville the county seat and in 1847 had the town incorporated by the state legislature.  It's location on the river made Guntersville a focal point during the Civil War.  Federal shelling partially burned the town, and troops on both sides passed through the city.
When the war was over, Guntersville was rebuilt, and it began growing.  The railroad came to the town in 1892.  The availability of both water and rail transport ensured commercial development could thrive.

(Go to the Tennessee Valley Authority Guntersville Reservoir web page for more information about this project)