Physical Description

The name Tombigbee is a derivative of the Choctaw word for “box maker” or “coffin maker.” This name referred to a strange spiritual shamen of the Choctaw tribe, sometimes called “buzzard men” who performed lengthy and unusual rituals for the dead. These rituals took several months, allowing the body to decompose, after which the shamen would clean the flesh from the bones before placing the skeleton in a box to await burial. (Cruising Guide)


The Tombigbee begins in Prentiss and Tishomingo counties of northeast Mississippi. The main stem of the upper Tombigbee flows through Mississippi for a length of ____ where it then crosses the Mississippi / Alabama state line at Aliceville Lake in Pickens County. It then continues its southeasterly direction for approximately ___ miles before it reaches Demopolis, Alabama and merges with the Black Warrior River, its largest tributary. This upper portion of the Tombigbee Basin encompasses about 9,000 square miles and occupies sections of the Fall Line Hills, Pontotoc Ridge and Black Prairie districts of the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic province. (State of Rivers)


The lower Tombigbee is considered the portion of the basin below the confluence with the Black Warrior River near Demopolis. This section flows 175 miles and drains 4,659 square miles in seven Alabama counties before the Tombigbee merges with the Alabama River to form the Mobile River at ________. (GSA)

Columbus is the biggest city on the Tombigbee.

Three general types of soil are noted in the Tombigbee Basin. They are the soils of the clay hills, the black belt, and of the upper coastal plain. (Rivers of AL)

“The Tombigbee River system drainage basin encompasses three physiographic provinces that are characterized by marked differences in underlying geology.” These are the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the Cumberland Plateau, and the Valley and Ridge. The area separating the uplands of the Valley and Ridge and Cumberland from the Coastal Plain lowlands is known as the Fall Line Hills and is characterized by broad, flat ridges separated by narrow stream valleys. Elevations range from about 700 feet to 250 feet. Adjacent to the Fall Line Hills lies the Black Belt. The physiography of the Black Belt is markedly different from the surrounding region, with low relief and mature weathering. Maximum elevation in this region is 250 feet.

(Futato et. all 1989: 15-17)