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About 150 meters downstream on the west bank were the ruins of Sipsey Mills, a three-story three-runner grist mill built in the 1850s. We pulled onto a sandbar for examination of the site. Only the foundation pillars remain, with brick covering the entire riverbed at the point where the mills collapsed into the stream in the early 1900s. Union cavalry had burned the mills in April 1865. The mills was later rebuilt and operated into the twentieth century. This was the other object of our trip, measuring, photographing, and exploring these ruins, visible only at low water. This was the reason we made the trip in late summer, when the Sipsey is lowest.
After the bridge and mills remains were examined and documented, we continued down the lazy Sipsey River. The gentle bends are surrounded by twenty to thirty foot banks of firm clay, not rock. Woodlands cover the banks, with cottonwood and bald cypress near the river's edge. At one point we pulled onto another sandbar for lunch. We had to shove our canoes over a few trees across the channel, though when the river is higher this is not a problem. Only at one point was there swamp surrounding the main channel. We spent a total of five hours on the river. Take out was within sight of the Ala Hwy 14 bridge south of Aliceville.
This was a most relaxing enjoyable experience. Weather was great; it rained slightly at the beginning, mosquitoes were at a minumum.
Sipsey River (vs Sipsey Fork) is a quiet, year-round canoeing experience. Below is a site which provides canoe outfitting for this river.
Authors note: I noticed on this website, as well as several sites, that the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River in west Alabama is erroneously referred to as the Sipsey River. This latter stream is a separate watershed further west in the state, and offers a substantially different canoeing experience. I have found in Civil War historical research where the confusion of these streams has led to misinterpretation of primary sources and confusion in historical events. Evidently the same is taking place in confusion of recreation venues as well.
1 Canoe/Kayak Trailer