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Survey of Muscle Shoals By William Tell Poussin

Rare early map of a section of the Tennessee River, centered on Florence, Alabama, published in Paris by Guillaume (William) Tell Poussin, a French engineer who had been one of the primary officials responsible for the survey of the prospects of the Canal undertaken between 1826 and 1831.

The survey was undertaken to address four obstructions in the Tennessee River over a stretch of 37 miles, between Brown's Ferry and Florence.

Early in the 19th century, the opening of the Lower Tennessee River, by means of a canal around the Muscle Shoals, was considered by the Government. In 1824, during the administration of President Monroe, the then Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, asserted that the improvement of the obstruction known as the Muscle Shoals was of national importance. In 1827 the Board of Internal Improvement—Brig. Gen. S. Bernard, Lieut. Col. James Kearney, and Maj. William Tell Poussin; examined that portion of the Tennessee River extending from Brown's Ferry to Waterloo, Alabama, and made its report in May, 1828. Congress, during the same month, granted to the State of Alabama 400,000 acres of United States lands, to be applied principally to the improvement of the navigation of the Muscle Shoals and Colbert Shoals.

The survey work was commenced under the direction of the Secretary of War by Captain William Tell Poussin in 1828, with some of the preliminary work done by Ferdinand Sannoner, the city planner of Florence and one of the earliest mapmakers working in Alabama.  A second survey was conducted by James Kearney in 1830.

The map appeared in the Travaux d'ameliorations interieures projetes ou executes par le Gouvernement General des Etats-Unis d'Amerique, de 1824 a 1831; par Guillaume-Tell Poussin. Poussin's work was a general synthesis of scientific projects in the United States, including the Florida Canal project, undertaken after he returned from America in 1832.


The map is very rare on the market. This is the first example we have ever seen and we can find no examples of the book appearing on the market with the map in a dealer catalog or auction record.

Condition Description
Remnants of an old library stamp and number in lower left quadrant.