FLORENCE — Members of the Alabama chapter of the Natchez Trace Parkway Association want to showcase the history of Colbert Ferry and other local landmarks on the trace at a new visitors center that will be built at Colbert Ferry Park.
Chapter President Bud Pride told about 16 people at an association meeting Thursday the parkway is making improvements along the Trace, and Colbert Park is included.
Pride said the existing visitors station and restroom facility will be demolished and a new one built as early as 2013.
The local chapter plans to formally ask the association to allow it to showcase the history of Colbert Ferry and the history of the Natchez Trace in Colbert and Lauderdale counties.
“There were a lot of really dynamic personalities involved way back then,” Pride said.
The Natchez Trace runs from Nashville through 32 miles of northwest Alabama, to Natchez, Miss.
Pride said the group has a letter that outlines the chapter’s plans, including what might be displayed.
He also wants to gather a group of committee members to meet with the association’s Executive Director Tony Turnbo and discuss their plans.
“I would think time would be of the essence,” Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Bureau Executive Director Debbie Wilson said.
The group wants to showcase the story of George Colbert, a Chickasaw who operated Colbert Ferry, and his family.
They would like to have drawings or models of a ferry and a ferry station from the late 1700s and early 1800s and a portrait of Colbert.
“There are a number of things you could put in there relating to George Colbert,” Pride said.
Pride said the building reportedly has a 500-square-foot room that might be large enough to showcase the items.
If not, they will ask the parkway association if they could expand the building by maybe 100 square feet.
Pride said the local chapter also would like to see a historic marker focusing on Gen. John Coffee placed at the small park on the Lauderdale County side of the Natchez Trace bridge.
Colbert County Commissioner Charles Hovater suggested the chapter host an event that would showcase frontier and Native American culture.
Florence Councilman Dick Jordan applauded the group’s efforts to locate a visitors center at the park. Jordan said he is a member of the Natchez Trace Parkway Association.
“What they’re trying to do is going to help the cities and the counties,” Jordan said. “This can really be a tourist attraction for Colbert and Lauderdale counties.”
Association members said they also would like to provide information about the Shoals so people traveling Natchez Trace could visit local attractions.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.