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Ingalls Iron Works was originally established in 1910, by Robert Ingalls, in Titusville, AL, and grew to be the largest steel company in the region. The shipyard in Decatur, AL, on the Tennessee River, was started in 1937. As WWII approached, the yard's small size forced Ingalls to look for a bigger site, first in Birmingham, AL, then in Chickasaw, GA, and finally in Pascagoula, MS. Ingalls' shipbuilding interests were sold to Litton Industries in 1961 then to Trinity Industries in 1981. Trinity closed the Decatur yard due to inspections that revealed the yard's facilities were outdated and would require significant capital investment. Trinity opted to shut down the yard, ending 44 years of shipbuilding in Decatur.
In 2001, the Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association voted to self-impose a $1.50 room occupancy tax, the proceeds of which would be used for tourism product development. With funds generated from this self-imposed room occupancy tax, Ingalls Harbor was built and rests on the south side of the Tennessee River and is composed of 27 acres.
Ingalls Harbor has quickly become one of the best fishing spots in the nation, attracting many nationally-acclaimed sport fishing tournaments each year including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Wal-Mart FLW Series, American Bass Anglers, and Bassmaster Weekend Series. Since the first phase of Ingalls Harbor was completed, the park has brought over $1 million into the local economy. Phase 2 of the Ingalls Harbor project is currently underway and is funded in part by the self-imposed room occupancy tax.
A campaign to complete Ingalls Harbor began in early 2010. The last phase of the park includes adding a large pavilion with a capacity for 750 people, smaller pavilions, a river-heritage museum, more docks, and a lighthouse building. The plans for the final phase also include landscaping and parking improvements. (View the plan for the last phase of Ingalls Harbor.)