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Their waters are discharged into Mobile Bay through the Mobile and Tensaw rivers. In the far north the Tennessee valley contains dark loams and red clays that add vivid dashes of colour to the landscape when exposed.Farther south lie the varied soils of a mineral belt, and these are succeeded by the rich limestone and marl soils of the Black Belt.The 53 miles (85 km) of coastline have occasional swamps and bayous, backed by timber growth on sandy soils and fronted by stretches of white sand beaches.The Cumberland Plateau region drains to the northwest through the Tennessee River and the often deep valleys of its tributaries, with much water retained in large scenic lakes formed in the 1930s by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).Muscadine and scuppernong grapes and blackberries also flourish.Beardlike Spanish moss grows in the coastal woodlands. Bluebirds, cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, doves, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, yellow-shafted flickers (called yellowhammers in Alabama), and an occasional eagle are found here.Most of the thick forests are in the north and northeast.Pine trees predominate, and live oaks are also found statewide, adding character to the streets of the older towns and cities.
Farther south stretch piney woods and then coastal plains until one reaches the moss-draped live oaks of Mobile and the white beaches of the gulf.
It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, and Mississippi to the west. The rich agricultural valley of the Tennessee River occupies the extreme northern part of the state.
The Florida panhandle blocks Alabama’s access to the Gulf of Mexico except in Alabama’s southwestern corner, where Mobile Bay is located. In northeastern Alabama the broken terrain of the southwestern fringe of the Appalachian Mountains begins and continues in a southwesterly progression across the northern half of the state.
Elevations rise to 1,800 feet (550 metres) in the more rugged eastern portions.
The Great Appalachian Valley forms another marked division to the east.