Story of Wetumpka parallels the story of the Tulatoma snail

The city of Wetumpka created the Tulatoma Snail Trail. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 2:29 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - ”Enterprise has the boll weevil. We have the Tulotoma magnifica.” Dennis Fain, secretary treasurer of Main Street Wetumpka, explained the town has an unlikely mascot. “The Tulatoma snail is a mollusk. It’s a freshwater snail.”

The way Fain tells the story, the snail and the city actually have a lot in common. The snail once had a thriving population in Wetumpka’s Coosa River until hydroelectric dams changed their habitat, and the Tulatoma snail was declared an endangered species in 1991. Downtown Wetumpka has a similar story.

“In 2015, probably 50% of the buildings downtown were vacant. And our town was in really desperate need of revitalization,” Fain said.

The city worked to make changes in the river’s waterflow to move the snail off the endangered list and on to the threatened list, then it used the snail’s story to work on downtown. And now both are thriving.

“The snail, through its perseverance, was able to thrive, and because of changes that were made to its habitat, that happened. Well, our town is a is a grand example of that,” said Fain.

Now the city is using the snail and its history to build on its future. It’s created the Tulatoma Snail Trail.

“It is a placemaking project that transforms public spaces into more beautiful and usable spaces that bring a higher purpose, two places that are not utilized as much,” said Haley Greene, Main Street Wetumpka’s executive director overseeing the trail.

One stop of the trail is at the Elmore County Museum.

“There’s a huge wood-carved snail in the front that was done by a local artist,” said Greene. “It has benches where you can sit and read about the history.”

The largest stop is a former parking lot transformed into an alleyway gathering space in the middle of downtown. And a third stop is in the works.

“It will be the fall line, which is located near Coach’s Corner. It is overlooking the beautiful Coosa River,” Greene said.

To learn more about the project, visit https://www.ioby.org/project/tulotoma-snail-trail.

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