After the battle came the night. It was the night of March 27, 1814. The
soldiers stretched wearily by the campfires. General Andrew Jackson sat in
his tent at Horseshoe Bend and thought of the great victory. At last he had
broken the power of the Creek Indians. Hundreds of warriors lay dead in the
sweeping bend of the Tallapoosa River.
Across the river, deep in the forest, a man stood motionless and alone. He
was William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, a leader of the Creeks.
He had escaped from the battle, and he would be hunted.
Yet Red Eagle did not flee. He thought of the Creek women and children
hiding in the forest without food or protection. He sighed and made a
decision. He would offer his life in exchange for food and safety for his
Red Eagle crossed the dark river and stood before Jackson, waiting for
death. But Jack-son, admiring his courage, allowed Red Eagle to leave in
peace. Before long the Creeks and other tribes left Alabama, and settlers
took the land.
One of Alabama's nicknames, Heart of Dixie, comes from the fact that the
state is located in the heart, or center, of the South. There are several
stories about the origin of the word "Dixie." Perhaps it came from the
French word dix, meaning "ten." This word was printed on $10 bills used in
the state of Louisiana before the Civil War. The bills were called dixies,
and the name Dixie, or Dixie Land, came to be used for all the cotton-
Alabama has a long history as a farming area. The Indians were its first
farmers. Long before European settlers came to the New World, the Indians
cleared the thickets-thick growths of shrubs, bushes, and vines
—along Alabama's rivers and carried on agriculture. Then settlers took the
land, and fields of fluffy cotton began to stretch across Alabama. For
years the state was known as a land of cotton. But the time came when
Alabama's farmers realized that it was not wise to depend on a single crop.
They began to grow. many different kinds of crops and to raise hogs,
cattle, and chickens. Today leaders of the state say that Alabama's farms
can produce enough foods to give every one of its citizens a well-balanced
diet without having to repeat a menu for 30 days.
Roaring blast furnaces at Birmingham show that factories as well as farms
are important in Alabama. Birmingham is known as the Pittsburgh of the
South because of its steel mills. It is the largest of Alabama's industrial
cities. There are many others.
The U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal, located at Huntsville, took Alabama into
the space age. Here scientists worked on the Jupiter C rocket. This rocket
hurled the nation's first successful satellite into orbit. Huntsville is
also known for the Redstone III rocket and the Saturn. The Redstone III
boosted the nation's first astronaut into outer space. The Saturn enabled
U.S. astronauts to land on the moon. Later, the space shuttle was tested at
The map on the state seal proudly displays Alabama's rivers. They have
been important for transportation. Dams in some of the rivers have great
power plants. These plants supply electric power to help light Alabama's
farms and cities and to run its factories. The dams also create strings of
sparkling lakes, where residents and visitors can enjoy fishing, boating,
and other forms of recreation. Besides its rivers and lakes, Alabama has a
share of the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile, on beautiful Mobile Bay, is one of the
important ports of the nation.
Timber from the forest and fish from the sea add to Alabama's wealth. Many
of the people still grow cotton and corn, but agriculture alone is no
longer the main concern of the state.
STATEHOOD: December 14, 1819; the 22nd state. SIZE: 133.915 km2 (51,705 sq
mi); rank, 29th.
POPULATION: 3.893,888 (1980 census); rank, 22nd.
ORIGIN OF NAME: From the Alibamu. or Alabamu. tribe of Indians, members of
the Creek Confederacy. The name may have come from words in the Choctaw
language, alba ayamule, meaning "I clear the thicket."
ABBREVIATIONS: Ala.; AL.
NICKNAMES: Heart of Dixie, from its location in the center of the Deep
South. Yellowhammer State, from Civil Wa'r times, when troops from Alabama
were called Yellowhammers.
STATE SONG: "Alabama," by Julia S. Tutwiler; music by Edna Goeckel Gussen.
STATE MOTTO: Audemus jura nostra defendere (We " dare defend our rights).
STATE SEAL: A map of Alabama showing the bordering states, the Gulf of
Mexico, and the major rivers.
STATE COAT OF ARMS: The shield in the center contains the emblems of five
governments that have ruled over Alabama—France (upper left), Spain (upper
right), Great Britain (lower left), the Confederacy (lower right), and the
United States (center). The eagles on each side of the shield represent
courage. They stand on a banner that carries the state motto. The ship
above the shield shows that Alabama borders on water.
STATE FLAG A crimson field. cross of St. Andrew on a white.
Alabama is one of the East South Central group of states. It could be
called an Appalachian state or a Gulf state. The southern end of the
Appalachian Mountain system extends into Alabama and covers the
northeastern part of the state. The Gulf of Mexico forms a small but
important part of Alabama's southern border.
Within the state of Alabama there are three major landforms. They are the
Interior Low Plateau, the Appalachian Highlands, and the Gulf Coastal
Plain. The Gulf Coastal Plain is the largest of the three regions. It lies
south of a line that begins in the northwestern corner of the state, runs
southeastward through the city of Tuscaloosa, and continues to Phenix City,
on the eastern border.
The Interior Low Plateau enters Alabama from the state of Tennessee and
covers a small area in the extreme northwest. The average elevation of this
part of Alabama is 210 meters (700 feet). It is a region of knobby hills,
cut through by the broad valley of the Tennessee River.
The Appalachian Highlands include three areas. They arc the Appalachian
Plateau, the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region, and the Piedmont Plateau.
The average elevation of the highlands varies from 150 to 200 meters (500
to 700 feet), with most of the highest points in the Ridge and Valley
The Appalachian Plateau, also known as the Cumberland Plateau, enters the
northeast corner of the state and extends southwest-ward. This plateau is
rather rugged. It has some good farmland, but it is mainly an area of
lumbering and mining.
The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region is made up of narrow valleys
between steep mountain ridges. It is known for its mineral riches and
forests of oak and pine.
The Piedmont Plateau is a wedge-shaped area southeast of the Ridge and
Valley Region. It gets its name from the word pied-mont, which means "lying
at the base, or foot, of mountains." This region is generally hilly, with
some rolling land. The most rugged part is in the northwest, where Cheaha
Mountain rises to 734 meters (2,407 feet).
The Gulf Coastal Plain is mainly a flat to rolling plain. Ages ago it was
covered by oceans. The part adjoining the Appalachian
Highlands is called the Upper Coastal Plain. This is the oldest part, as
well as the highest in elevation. South of it is a strip of nearly level
land known as the Black Belt because of its dark-colored soils. The
southeastern quarter of the state is known as the Wire Grass area because
it was once covered with a kind of coarse grass called wire grass.
For many years the Coastal Plain was the heart of the cotton fields. It is
changing gradually to an area where livestock graze and many different
crops are grown.
Rivers, Lakes, and Coastal Waters
Alabama is drained by three major river systems. The Tennessee River dips
down' into Alabama from the state of Tennessee. It flows westward through
northern Alabama and then northward to join the Ohio River. The other major
rivers of Alabama flow toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Mobile River system
is made up of several important rivers. The Tombigbee River and its main
tributary, the Black Warrior River, drain the western part of the state.
The Coosa and the Talla-poosa rivers flow through east central and eastern
Alabama. They join near Montgomery to form the Alabama River, which flows
southwestward toward the Tombigbee. North of Mobile, the Alabama and the
Tombigbee rivers join to form the Mobile River, which drains southward into
Mobile Bay. The Chat-tnhoochee is the major river of southeastern Alabama.
Guntcrsvillc Lake is the largest of the many lakes in the state.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee (Tenn-Tom) Waterway project was designed to
provide a water route from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, by
way of the Tombigbee River. It includes a canal in the northeastern corner
of Mississippi that links the rivers.
Alabama's general coastline on the Gulf of Mexico is 85 kilometers (53
miles) long. If the shorelines of inlets, bays, and offshore islands are
added, the total shoreline is 977 kilometers (607 miles).
People sometimes think of Alabama as an uncomfortably hot, tropical state,
but this impression is false. Actually, there is a wide variety of climate
from the highlands of the north to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Winter temperatures in the southern half of the state rarely drop below
freezing. Snow is so rare that many children have never seen a snowfall. In
the northern part of the state, winters are not so mild. Northwest winds
bring cold snaps, but they are usually short and are followed by mild
Summer temperatures tend to be about the same over the state. The summer
is long, but extended heat waves are almost unknown. Along the coast the
hot days are relieved by frequent breezes blowing in from the Gulf of
Mexico. Nights are cool and comfortable even in midsummer. In the north,
summer temperatures are relieved by the higher altitudes and by cool forest
shade. Spring and autumn are long and delightful. Autumn extends from early
September to well after Thanksgiving.
LOCATION: Latitude—30° 13' N to 35" N
.Longitude—84" to 53' W to 88° 28' W.
Tennessee to the north, Mississippi on the west, the Florida panhandle and
the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Georgia on the east.
ELEVATION: Highest—Cheaha Mountain, 734 m (2,407 ft). Lowest—Sea level,
along the Gulf of Mexico.
LANDFORMS: Highlands (the Interior Low Plateau and the Appalachian
Highlands) in the northern part of the state; lowlands (the Gulf Coastal
Plain) in the south and west.
SURFACE WATERS: Major rivers—Tennessee; Tombigbee, with its main tributary,
the Black Warrior; Coosa and Tallapoosa, which join to form the Alabama;
Mobile, formed by the joining of the Alabama and the Tombigbee;
Chattahoochee. Major artificial lakes—Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler, and
Guntersville, on the Tennessee River; Lay, Mitchell, Weiss, and Jordan, on
.the Coosa; Martin and Thurlow, on the Tallapoosa; Holt Reservoir on the
CLIMATE: Temperature—July average, about 27°C (80°F) statewide. January
average, about 7°C (44°F) in north, 12°C (53°F) in south.
Precipitation—Rainfall average, 1,350 mm (53 in); varies from 1,320 mm (52
in) in north to 1,730 mm (68 in) along the coast. Growing season—Varies
from about 200 days in north to 300 days in south.
Leaders of the state like to say that Alabama has more natural resources
than any other area of its size in the world. These resources include
soils, minerals, forests, and water.
Soils. Alabama may be divided into several major soil areas. Along the
Coosa and the Tennessee rivers, there are valleys called limestone valleys.
The soils in these valleys are mainly red clay loams. They were formed by
the weathering of limestone rock. The soils of the Appalachian Plateau are
mainly sandy loams. Red sandy loams and clay loams cover much pf the
Piedmont Plateau. The soils of the Gulf Coastal Plain were formed from
sediment laid down in the oceans that once covered the plain. Most of these
soils are sandy loams or clay soils.
Long years of growing cotton and corn lowered the fertility of Alabama's
soils. The abundant rainfall also caused the topsoil to be washed away. In
many places, especially in the Piedmont Plateau and the Black Belt, farms
are now planted in grasses to improve the soil and provide pasture for
Forests. About 60 per cent of all the land of Alabama is forested. Many
kinds of trees are found, but the soft pine is the most common. It is also
the most valuable for wood pulp, which is used for making paper. The pine
forests grow mainly in the central and southern parts of the state.
To improve worn-out soils, farmers have developed many tree farms for
future harvest. Paper companies, farmers, and the government all help in a
continuing program of reforestation.
Minerals. Most of Alabama's minerals are in the northern half of the
state. Coal and iron ore are found in the Appalachian Plateau and in the
Ridge and Valley Region. One of the largest deposits, or fields, of coal is
the Warrior field. It extends through all of Walker County and parts of
Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties. Some of the best beds of iron
ore are in the Birmingham area.
Limestone occurs in the Tennessee Valley and in the Ridge and Valley
Region, as well as in areas of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Marble is found in
Coosa and Talladega counties.
Petroleum is the most important mineral of the Gulf Coastal Plain. It has
been found in the extreme southwestern counties. There are important salt
deposits north of Mobile. Henry and Barbour counties, as well as other
parts of the state, have deposits of bauxite, a claylike mineral from which
aluminum is obtained.
| POPULATION |
|TOTAL: 3,893,888 (1980 census). Density—29.6 |
|persons to each square kilometer (76.7 persons |
|to each square mile). |
|GROWTH SINCE 1820 |
|Year Population |
|Year Population |
|1820 127,901 |
|1920 2,348,174 |
|1860 964,201 |
|1960 3,266,740 |
|1880 1,262,505 |
|1970 3,444,354 |
|1900 1,828,697 |
|1980 3,893,888 |
|Gain Between 1970 and 1980—13.1 percent |
|CITIES: Fifteen of Alabama's cities have a |
|population of more than 25,000 (1980 census). |
|Birmingham 284,413 Prichard 39,541 |
|Mobile 200,452 Florence 37,029 |
|Montgomery 177,857 Bessemer 31,729 |
|Huntsville 142,513 Anniston 29,523 |
|Tuscaloosa 75,211 Auburn 28,471 |
|Dothan 48,750 Phenix City 26,928 |
|Gadsden 47,565 Selma 26,684 |
|Decatur 42,002 |
Waters. Alabama's water is one of its most valuable resources. The
supply is abundant. Mainly it is soft, pure water that does not require
treatment before being used in homes and industries.
Hydroelectric plants line the Coosa, Talla-poosa, Tennessee,
Chattahoochee, and Black Warrior rivers. Along the rivers there arc also
steam power plants, fed by Alabama's coal. Additional plants are now being
built or planned. They will provide ample power for years to come.
Wildlife. Alabama has more than 300 species of birds. Among the largest
are bald eagles, hawks, ospreys, and wild turkeys, ducks, and geese.
Rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and white-tailed deer are found in
most of the state, and black bears in some areas. Fresh-water fish include
bass, perch, bluegill, and trout. Some fisheries have been closed by
In 1955 the tarpon was named the state salt-water fish. It is a big
fighting fish found in the warm, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It has
no commercial value. The main products of the sea fisheries are shrimp,
oysters, and crabs.
THE PEOPLE AND THEIR WORK
There are very few foreign-born people living in Alabama. The majority
ants of European settlers who came to the area in colonial times. About one
third of the people are blacks whose ancestors were brought to the South as
slaves. Among the people of Indian heritage, the most active organized
group is the Creek Nation East of the Mississippi, at Atmore.
In 1960, for the first time, more Alabam-ians lived in cities than in
rural areas. The number of persons who work on farms has dropped steadily
since the 1940's. And the number who work in manufacturing and other kinds
of jobs has continued to grow.
Industries and Products
For some time the value of products manufactured in Alabama has been far
greater than the value of livestock and crops and of the different kinds of
minerals that are produced in the state.
Manufacturing. The mast important industries are the ones that manufacture
metals, textiles, chemicals, and forest products. Many of the industries
make use of Alabama's own raw materials.
The areas around Birmingham and Gadsden are the only places in the nation
where iron ore, coal, and limestone are found close together. These are
basic raw materials needed in the making of steel. About 90 percent of all
the steel making in the South is carried on in Alabama, mostly in and
around Birmingham, Anniston, and Gadsden. New factories that make products
from iron and steel continue to spring up throughout the state, mainly
along the water routes.
Around Mobile, as well as in other areas, there are plants that extract
aluminum from bauxite. These plants provide metal for factories in the
Tennessee Valley that make aluminum products. A large copper-tubing plant
at Decatur, on the Tennessee River, is a new development for Alabama.
The textile industry produces yarn and thread, woven fabrics, clothing,
and other goods. Textile mills are spread throughout the state.
WHAT ALABAMA PRODUCES
MANUFACTURED GOODS: Primary metals, paper and related products, chemicals
and related products, fabricated metal products, textiles, rubber and
plastic products, clothing, processed foods.
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS: Broilers, cattle and calves, soybeans, eggs,
peanuts, cotton, milk.
MINERALS: Coal, petroleum, natural gas. Iron ore, cement, stone, sand and
Many of the chemical industries make use of coal tar, a tar that is left
from the process of making coke. Some of the by-products of coal tar are
medicines, explosives, dyes, and plastics. The salt deposits near Mobile
provide raw material for the making of chlorine products, such as bleaches,
disinfectants, and water purifiers. At Muscle Shoals in northwestern
Alabama there is a federal plant where fertilizers and munitions are
developed for the benefit of agriculture and industry.
Alabama ranks among the first five timber producers in the nation. The
forests supply lumber for furniture and other wood products as well as wood
pulp for the paper industries. The first pulp and paper plant in the state
was built at Tuscaloosa in 1929. Other cities that now have large pulp
mills are Mobile and Brewton, in southern Alabama, and De-mopolis, in the
western part of the state. Most of the pulp is made into finished products
such as newsprint, stationery, corrugated boxes, and kraft paper. Kraft
paper is the strong brown paper used in grocery bags.
Agriculture. In Enterprise, Alabama, there is a monument to the boll
weevil. It is perhaps the only monument in the world to an insect pest. The
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