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Cahaba River: Wikis


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Cahaba River
Country  United States
State Alabama
 - left (numerous)
 - right (numerous)
 - location Jefferson County, Alabama
 - coordinates 33°41′15″N 86°36′0″W / 33.6875°N 86.6°W / 33.6875; -86.6 [1]
Mouth Alabama River
 - location Dallas County, Alabama
 - coordinates 32°19′9″N 87°35′41″W / 32.31917°N 87.59472°W / 32.31917; -87.59472 [1]
Length 191 mi (307 km)
Basin 1,870 sq mi (4,843 km2)

The Cahaba River is the longest free-flowing river in Alabama and is among the most scenic and biologically diverse rivers in the United States. The Cahaba River is a major tributary of the Alabama River and part of the larger Mobile River Basin. With headwaters near Birmingham, AL, the Cahaba meanders to the southwest, then at Heiberger turns southeast, and joins the Alabama River at Cahaba, Alabama (in Dallas County). Contained entirely within central Alabama, the Cahaba River is 191 miles (307 km) long and drains an area of 1,870 square miles (4800 km2).



The town of Cahawba was founded at the mouth of the Cahaba River in 1819, as the first provisional capital of Alabama, and was a center of riverboat commerce on the Alabama River until sometime after the Civil War.[2][3]

Natural history

Cahaba Lily

The waters of the Cahaba are home to more than 131 species of freshwater fishes (18 of which have been found in no other river system), 40 species of mussels, and 35 species of snails. Sixty-nine of these animal species are endangered. Among the countless plant species that thrive in and around the Cahaba is the beautiful Cahaba Lily. As a result, a portion of the Cahaba River, near West Blocton, AL, has been designated as the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.[4]

Water use

The Cahaba flows through heavily populated areas in the Birmingham metropolitan area. It serves as the source of drinking water in the upper course for over 1 million people and is also a popular canoeing destination. Pressure to develop the land around the Cahaba presents a growing threat to the health of the river.

Major cities

A number of Alabama cities lie on the banks of or in close proximity to the Cahaba River. They include:


There are numerous small tributaries, including:


  • The Cahaba River Society is Alabama’s largest watershed conservation organization and is recognized nationally for river stewardship. CRS’s success is due to a balanced, science-based, and inclusive approach. Its mission is to restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life.[5]
  • The Nature Conservancy Sustainable Waters Program The Sustainable Waters Program works with a range of partners to address freshwater issues relating to farms, energy, cities and floodplains.[6]
  • The Cahaba River Basin Clean Water Partnership mission is to identify issues, explore solutions, and make recommendations for the management and stewardship of the Cahaba River basin while maintaining the balance between protecting the environment and promoting the economy.[7]
  • The Alabama Rivers Alliance works to unite the citizens of Alabama to protect peoples right to clean, healthy, waters.[8]
  • Alabama Water Watch is dedicated to volunteer citizen monitoring of water quality in Alabama Rivers.[9]
  • The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, the regional governing body for the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Central Alabama, is developing a camp and conference center on the Cahaba River called Living River[10]. PSL is working diligently to develop this center in an environmentally sound way, and to protect the river. PSL helped remove the Marvel Slab in partnership with many other organizations, which helped a large portion of the river return to its natural, free flowing state.


  • Jackson, Harvey H. III (1995). Rivers of History-Life on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Cahaba and Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0817307710.  


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Cahaba River
  2. ^ Jackson, Harvey H. III (1995). Rivers of History-Life on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Cahaba and Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0817307710.  
  3. ^ Old Cahawba
  4. ^ Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge
  5. ^ The Cahaba River Society
  6. ^ The Nature Conservancy
  7. ^ Cahaba River Basin
  8. ^ Alabama Rivers Alliance Website
  9. ^ Alabama Water Watch Website
  10. ^ Living River Website


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