Howell and Graves

Early blueprint plat map for Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Map of Muscle Shoals Center Number Twelve Colbert County, Alabama. A. L. Howell and C. T. Graves Owners and Developers. Detroit, Michigan. Executive Office 350 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y.

DESCRIPTION: Very rare unrecorded cyanotype or blueprint plat map of a development near Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Includes at upper right a fine context map of the Tri-cities area of Florence, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals showing the locations of four developments planned by Howell and Graves in context to other major developments (two nitrate plants and a dam), and area railroads. Dated within at February, 1925. (The city of Muscle Shoals was incorporated in April, 1923.)

Background: After the outbreak of WWI Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1916 which, provided for construction of several new dams and for two nitrate plants. Nitrates, formerly sourced from Chile, were used in explosives and were deemed critical to the war effort. The nitrate plants were to be located in Muscle Shoals with the nearby Wilson Dam (then under construction) to provide power for the plants. The first nitrates were produced from these plants in November of 1918. The war ended before completion of the dam and eventually the Government offered the incomplete Wilson Dam for public sale. Henry Ford (Detroit, Michigan) made an offer to pay for completion of the dams and the nitrate plants in return for a 99-year lease. Ford's vision was to build a city 75 miles wide, employing over 1 million workers. Ford's involvement caused a land boom in the area of Sheffield. Politics ensued, Ford withdrew his offer, and the land boom faded.

Howell and Graves went on to build the first City Hall, homes, and the Howell and Graves Jr. High School, now used by the Board of Education. The streets they platted on this map including Alabama Avenue and Sheffield Avenue are still in existence in SW Muscle Shoals.

Kazek, Kelly. "Could Muscle Shoals have been a hub rivaling Detroit? Henry Ford thought so". January 14, 2019.

CREATOR: Howell and Graves



BODY OF WATER: Tennessee River

CONDITION: Good.  Loss of 1" area of margin and neatline at left. Loss and fold separations repaired archivally from the verso with period cyanotype paper. MS notations on recto.


ENGRAVER: W. G. Johnson.

SIZE: 28 " x 23 "


PRICE: $675


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