Thousands of Cherokee Indians passed through Waterloo in the 1830s when they were forced by the U.S. government to move West on the "Trail of Tears". Most came by boat from Tuscumbia and camped here to await transfer to larger steamboats. During the encampment several births, deaths, and escapes occurred.
One party of 1,070 Cherokees traveled overland from Ross Landing in Tennessee due to low water in the upper river. Following the general route of U.S. Hwy. 72 to Florence, they arrived here July 10, 1838, in miserable condition after a 23~ day journey.
About 17,000 Cherokees were driven from their homeland in the southern Appalachian Mtns. Most traveled by land thought Tennessee and on to Oklahoma. Great suffering and about 4,000 deaths occurred along the trail, especially during the winter of 1838-39.