People driving across Neely Henry Dam on St. Clair County Road 26 can also see one of the most storied pieces of land in the state – Ten Island Park.
Today, the park provides a place for lake lovers and fishermen to relax, launch boats, picnic and enjoy the calm beauty of one of state’s less trafficked lakes. But before construction began on Neely Henry Dam, backing up the waters of the Coosa River, Ten Island’s natural river ford was a magnet for civilization, exploration and conflict.
Evidence of settlement at the site dates back to Paleo, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian Indian groups, and there is historical speculation that Hernando de Soto used the site to cross the wild-flowing Coosa River in the early 1540s.
It was the Creek Indians who first named the site Oti Palin – or Ten Island – after a series of islands along several miles of the Coosa River. The Creek settled on Wood Island – the southernmost and largest in the chain – which was later incorporated into the construction of Neely Henry Dam.