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Etowah County


Alabama As It Is - by Ben. F. Riley - 1887

Etowah County - Smith and DeLand - 1888


The county of Etowah derives its name from an Indian term which means pine tree. It was created in 1866 under the name of Baine, which name it retained for two years, when it was changed to Etowah. It is located in that section of the State which abounds in numerous elements of natural wealth, such as productive lands, forests of valuable timber, and deposits of ore. Pluck and capital are needed to develop the immense resources in which Etowah abounds. Favored both with railroad and river transportation, the county ought to be speedily developed. But let us examine more minutely into its merits.

Its area is 520 square miles.

Population in 1870, 10,109; population in 1880, 15,398. Whites, 12,896; colored, 2,502.

Tilled Land: 60,780acres.—Area planted in cotton, 15,187 acres; in corn, 24,891 acres ; in oats, 5,025 acres ; in wheat, 7,063 acres; in tobacco, 47 acres; in sugar cane, 9 acres ; in sweet potatoes, 230 acres.

Cotton Production: 6,571 bales.

The county of Etowah is penetrated from the northeast to the southwest by two mountain plateaus and three valleys. The Coosa river flows through the eastern part of the county, thereby forming the valley of the same name, the fertility of which we have had occasion already to notice. The historic Coosa sweeps directly along the heart of the valley, which curves with the natural windings of the river. The valley begins to form by a slight undulation about three or four miles on either side of the Coosa.

As in other counties penetrated by this noted Coosa Valley, it is broken here and there by dividing ridges.

Beginning southwest of Gadsden and extending to the utmost limits of the county are what are locally known as '' The Flatwoods.'' This is quite a level tract of country. With the proper drainage this broad domain could be brought into agricultural requisition, but as it is but poorly drained it is comparatively little cultivated. Nothing seems wanting but drainage, as the natural growth and analysis of the soils show that the land is capable of at least moderate production.

Flanking the flat woods region are the cultivated lands of the belt. The land here is of a brownish cast and produces well. The Look-out Mountain plateau extends from the northeastern part of the county to Gadsden. This table-land is covered with the rocks of the Coal Measures, the soils of which, as usual, are sandy, alternating with loam.

Wills' Valley lies between this plateau and another from Sand Mountain, which runs parallel with the former.

Beyond this still is Murphree's Valley. These valley lands are quite productive, being of a dark mulatto or mahogany color. These lands are usually stiff, but yield abundant results where properly drained, deeply plowed, and otherwise well cultivated. The lands lying along the ridges and plateaus are sandy and easily cultivated. Upon these plateau lands there can be a more rapid rotation of crops, as they grow up rapidly and mature speedily. In the valleys are forests of oak, hickory, chestnut, and walnut. The Flatwoods region is covered with post, red, Spanish, and black-jack oaks, together with sweet and sour gums, and short-leaf pines. The chief products of the county are cotton, corn, wheat, oats, millet, sorghum, sweet and Irish potatoes, and clover. The plateaus yield very fine fruits, especially apples, pears, peaches, and plums. So well adapted are the soils to the production of the clovers and grasses that attention is being directed to stock-breeding. For many years the production of wool has
been a specialty in the county. A few years ago it ranked third in the production of wool. The county is watered by Big and Little Wills' creeks, Black creek, and the Coosa river. There are many bold springs in different parts of the county. Transportation is furnished by the Alabama Great Southern railroad, which connects with the steamers on the Coosa at Gadsden, by means of a short line running between the last-named place and Attalla. This affords an easy outlet by rail from Gadsden to New Orleans, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Birmingham, and other points of importance. Considerable quantities of iron ore are mined in the neighborhood of Attalla and shipped to the furnaces at Birmingham and Chattanooga. In
this particular section are many excellent lumber mills.

Gadsden, with a population of 1,800, is a thrifty mountain town, favorably located upon the Coosa river, which affords it easy communication with Rome, Georgia. It is connected with the Queen and Crescent route by a short line running to Attalla. It is regarded one of the best lumber markets in the State, having a number of extensive mills for the manufacture of lumber. Beside these, there is a large sash, door, and blind factory, and a broom-handle factory. In the neighborhood of the town there are several coal mines which are being successfully worked.

The town abounds in excellent church and school advantages.

Its natural scenery can not be surpassed by that of any other point in the State.

The scene is that of a busy little city nestled amid its native groves of oak at the base of high mountains, the woody flanks of which extend even to the limits of the city.

Various manufactories are found here, chief among which are the Coosa charcoal furnaces, which are among the largest and best in the State. Not a great distance from the city is mined brown hematite ore, which is broadly diffused throughout this section. The extent of the prevalence of this ore has not yet been determined, but is evidently considerable.

Sweeping past the city on the east is the Coosa river, upon the bosom of which float steamers of commerce which ply in both directions. In the sections adjacent to the town are many mineral springs, which are points of frequent resort. Black Creek Falls, but a short distance from Gadsden, are an object of great natural wonder.

Attalla is another town of some importance because of its neighboring iron mines.

Lands may be purchased at prices running all the way up from $2.50 to $20. There are in the county 12,121 acres of Government land.

 Source: Alabama As It Is by Benjamin Franklin Riley, D. D., 1887 , Transcribed by C. Anthony


Population: White, 19,808; colored, 3,000. Area. 520 square miles. Woodland, all. Coal measures. 140 square miles (40 on Lookout Mountain and 100 on Sand Mountain).

Acres - In cotton, approximately 17,000; in corn 24,891; in oats 6,000; in wheat 7,000; in tobacco 67; in sugar-cane 9; in sweet potatoes 260.

Approximate number of bales of cotton, in round numbers, 7,500.

County Seat - Gadsden: population, 4,000.

Newspaper published at County Seat - Times and News.

Post offices in the county: Atalla, Aurora, Ball Play, Buford, Clear Spring, Coats Bend, Coxville, Duck Springs. Etowahton, Gadsden, Greenwood, Hill, Hokes Bluff, Howelton, Keysburgh, Markton. Nix, Oak Hill, Heaves, Red Bud, Seaborn, Shahan. Stanfield, Turkeytown, Walnut Grove.

Three-fourths of the county is made up of mountain plateaus or table lands.

The agricultural resources of the county are tine, and when you take into consideration the diversity of crops which flourish in it, it is equaled by few counties in the State.

The county contains lands of nearly every variety, and these lands are adapted to raising profitably many of the cereals and fruits. Some of the richest valley lands to be found in the State are in this county, and these valley lands produce the finest staple of cotton, as well as abundant crops of corn, oats and wheat. Some of these valleys are remarkable for their beauty, as well as their fertility, and we mention the Little Wills Valley, up which runs the Great Southern Railroad.

We have these beautiful valleys running through the county, in addition to the Coosa River bottoms, as they are called. This Coosa bottom land is remarkable for producing a very fine grade of cotton, from which the celebrated Coates thread is made. It also yields large crops of corn and oats, and other small grains.

The county is penetrated from the northeast to the southwest by two mountain plateaus and their valleys. As before mentioned, nearly three-fourths of the county is mountainous, the other fourth takes in the three valleys. These valleys are known as the Coosa Valley, which averages from three to four miles on either side of the river, making its width about six or seven miles.

The other two valleys are known as Big and Little Wills Valleys, and are remarkable for their beauty and fertility, especially the latter, which is the smaller of the two valleys. ……...Source: Northern Alabama - Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


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