A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Muscle Shoals, Alabama

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The location of Muscle Shoals

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(GPS coordinates provided by the GNIS)
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Muscle Shoals
and the surrounding area.

Various Identification Codes ...

GNIS Codes ...

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) was created to address the problems caused by spelling and naming variations. The BGN will usually recognize an existing name or, when necessary, establish a new name for a geographic feature (such as a mountain, lake, river, stream, city, town, village, dam, bridge, etc).

The BGN names are kept in a database called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) and it is the official Federal repository. The GNIS is operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

A unique and permanent numeric code has been assigned for each name in the GNIS database. These names and identifiers are definitive and it is intended that they are to be used by all departments of the Federal Government:

GNIS ID for Muscle Shoals: 2404345

GNIS ID for Colbert County: 161542

GNIS ID for Alabama: 1779775

FIPS Codes ...

In a past effort, various federal agencies created a set of codes with a purpose similar to the GNIS codes. These codes are called the Federal Information Processing Standard (or the FIPS 55 codes). Although they are still used by some organizations, the FIPS codes are obsolete and will ultimately be replaced by the GNIS codes.

The following FIPS codes apply to Muscle Shoals:

Place (Community) Code:  53016
State Code:  01 (Alabama)
County Code:  033 (Colbert County)

Since the Place and County FIPS codes are not unique and can be repeated in other States, it's necessary to combine the State code with the Place and County FIPS codes to uniquely identify them - for example:

State/Place Code:  01/53016
State/County Code:  01/033

As already mentioned, the FIPS codes are to be replaced by the GNIS codes. The following reflect those changes:

 FIPS Code   translates to   GNIS Code
State of Alabama:    01   1779775
Colbert County:    01/033   161542
Muscle Shoals:    01/53016   2404345

GPS Location - GNIS vs Census ...

An important aspect of the GNIS code is that it assigns a GPS location (the latitude/longitude) to the geographic feature. This location is simply a point on the map and does not represent the size or shape of the feature. In the case of Muscle Shoals, it is a point within Muscle Shoals that might be a post office, the city hall or simply an intersection - the point should really be considered arbitrary and only indicating a general location.

For Muscle Shoals, the GNIS GPS location is given as:

Lat:   34° 44' 36"   (or 34.74°)

Lon:   -87° 38' 1"   (or -87.63°)   [Map]

Determined by its statistical needs, the Census Bureau has defined a sampling area for Muscle Shoals - this area also contains a map point. As with the GNIS code, the location of the Census point should be considered as being arbitrary within the sampling area.

For Muscle Shoals, the Census 2010 GPS location is given as:

Lat:   34° 44' 33"   (or 34.74°)

Lon:   -87° 38' 1"   (or -87.63°)   [Map]

The map point defined by the Census Bureau lies 296.6 feet to the south<1> of the point given by the GNIS (see above).

You might note that the GPS location given for the 2010 Census is different than the location that was specified by the 2000 Census:

Lat:   34° 45' 2"   (or 34.75°)

Lon:   -87° 39' 1"   (or -87.65°)   [Map]

The GPS location given for the 2000 Census lies 5,766 feet to the northwest<2> of the point given by the 2010 Census.

Regional Codes ...

For statistical purposes, the US Census Bureau has divided the country into four Regions. Muscle Shoals is located in Region #3 (the South Region).

In turn, the US Census Bureau has further divided each Region into Divisions. Muscle Shoals is located in Division #6 (the East South-Central Division).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has created ten Federal Regions. Muscle Shoals is located in Region IV (Region 4).

ZIP Codes ...

While some people have used a ZIP code to identify a community, the purpose of the ZIP code was to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although the ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Muscle Shoals, it does identify addresses that are in (or near) Muscle Shoals. It's important to remember that the boundaries of a ZIP Code are defined by the needs of the USPS and can be changed, re-assigned or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

The ZIP code for Muscle Shoals: 35661-35662<3>

Referenced GNIS Records ...

GNIS ID #152574   (Name of Record: Muscle Shoals)

Class: populated place

A place or area having clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent population (such as a city, settlement, town or village). The boundaries may or may not coincide with the perceived population.

A 'populated place' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'civil' record. The information contained in the 'populated place' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'civil' classes.

County: Colbert

Map Name: Tuscumbia

Lat: 34.7448112       Lon: -87.6675292   [Map]

Elev: 152 ft.

GNIS ID #2404345   (Name of Record: City of Muscle Shoals)

Class: civil

A political division formed for administrative purposes (such as a borough, county, incorporated place, parish, town or township).

A 'civil' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'populated place' record. The information contained in the 'civil' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'populated place' classes.

County: Colbert

Map Name: Tuscumbia

Lat: 34.7434667       Lon: -87.633674   [Map]

Elev: 161 ft.

Referenced FIPS Records ...

FIPS Code: 01/53016   (Place Name: Muscle Shoals)

County: Colbert     (FIPS State/County: 01/033)

Class: C1

Identifies an incorporated place (ie- Muscle Shoals) that does not serve as a primary county division - or in other words, it is included in and is part of a primary county division (ie- Colbert County).

GSA Code: 2190

MRF Code: 1225

MSA Code: 2650

Other Roadside Stops ...

The Communities of Alabama

About Colbert County

About Alabama

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website for Muscle Shoals:

The official website for Colbert County:

The official website for State of Alabama:

Footnotes ...

<1>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the GNIS-supplied location is 174 degrees.

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<2>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the 2000 Census location is 59 degrees.

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<3>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Muscle Shoals or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

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For additional information, please visit our Glossary for Muscle Shoals.