Exploring Alabama - Tallassee Preservation

I had a wonderful visit with some folks in Tallassee recently. One of them is Bill Goss, a retired educator who has a passion for Tallassee's past.

Bill Goss is a man of vision…you'd have to be to look at what's left of a group of 160 year old buildings...and see them as a beautifully developed tourist attraction. Goss and fellow preservations worked tirelessly to acquire five acres of land and the five stone and heart pine buildings along the river.

Goss told the story of where the stones came from that were used to construct the buildings. "Just in the distance there where the dam is were the great falls of Talisi," he said pointing to the Thurlow dam that is operated by Alabama Power Company. In the 1840's slaves cut the building stones from the riverbed beneath the great falls of Talisi. Back the, one hundred years before the power company built it's concrete barrier to the flowing river, the falls provided the power to run the equipment that made textiles.

During the Civil War, one of the mill buildings was temporarily converted to a Confederate arms factory. In 1864, the Confederate Army moved men and equipment to Tallassee from its armory in Richmond, Virginia. Before moving on to Selma, they manufactured about 500 of what became known as the Tallassee carbine. "We have located ten, so we know that they were actually in existence," said Goss.

The Talisi (original spelling) Historical Preservation Society wants to turn the1842 building, as it's know, into a museum to share the Tallassee story. Goss says the museum would have three main areas. "We're going to showcase the Indian heritage, the textile industry, and the Civil War role," he commented, "and it will bring in a lot of people."

Tallassee Mayor Bobby Saunders agrees. "I f we can get things to really gel with the historical end of it...the sky's the limit on what we can do." The group has already renovated the old boiler room building - which sits on top of the hill overlooking the other buildings. Goss sees it as a first step toward the museum. The original rock walls are exposed in the boiler room. It has some stained wood partitions, white wood ceiling boards and trim. The building now serves as a small meeting area for the preservations and other.

Goss hopes other buildings will follow and hopefully, tourists will, too.