Nearly 300 years ago, high atop a white chalk bluff on the Tombigbee River, French soldiers built a small wooden fort to mark their dominance of present-day west Alabama. Over the course of the 18th century, the flags of two other European powers—Britain and Spain—would also wave over this spot.

Known as Fort Tombecbe, it was the location for significant political and cultural events, eventually lending its name to the entire river. The voices of the soldiers, traders, Native Americans, freedmen, and slaves that once echoed from the bluff are now silent, but the old fort still has much to tell.

At Fort Tombecbe today, archaeologists and interpreters from the University of West Alabama lead programs for students, scholars, and the community to uncover the secrets of one of the last colonial outposts in the nation.