In 1780, French traders from the Wabash River in modern Ohio established a trading post at the confluence of the Occocoposo (named Cold Water, then later Spring Creek) and the Tennessee River to connect the area with trade routes to the north. Col. James Robertson of Nashville organized the first expedition to establish American control over the area. He left Nashville in early 1787, taking his men down the Cumberland River and up the Tennessee River. His first expedition ended in failure before reaching Alabama, as he and his men were forced to retreat due to the established Native American and French presence around the Duck River. However, his second attempt later the same year located the Native American village, along with the French trading post, along Spring Creek. A battle ensued against the natives and their French allies. Robertson’s expedition was victorious and his forces summarily destroyed the village and took control of the post and supplies. Soon after, around the turn of the century, the area was subject of multiple treaties, which heavily favored the United States. After the War of 1812, a military road from Nashville to New Orleans was built, passing through the Shoals, ultimately cementing American control of the region.
John A. Walthall, Prehistoric Indians of the Southeast Archaeology of Alabama and the Middle South (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2010).
Map: Birmingham Public Library Cartography Collection
Spring Creek: Joshua Grigsby