World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Cahaba, Alabama

Article Id: WHEBN0002018347
Reproduction Date:

Title: Cahaba, Alabama  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Selma, Alabama, History of Alabama, List of reportedly haunted locations in the United States, Prairie Bluff, Alabama, List of place names in Alabama of Native American origin
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cahaba, Alabama

Cahaba, Alabama is located in Alabama
Cahaba, Alabama
Nearest city Selma, Alabama
Area 853 acres (345 ha)
Built 1818
Architect Multiple
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 73000341[1]
Added to NRHP May 8, 1973

Cahaba, also spelled Cahawba, was the first permanent state capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1825.[2] It is now a ghost town and state historic site. The site is located in Dallas County, southwest of Selma.[3]



Cahaba had its beginnings as an undeveloped town site at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers. At the old territorial capital of St. Stephens, a commission was formed on 13 February 1818 to select the site for Alabama's state capital. Cahaba was the site chosen and was approved on 21 November 1818.[3] Due to the future capital being nothing more than wilderness, Alabama's constitutional convention was forced to find temporary accommodations in Huntsville until a statehouse could be built. Governor William Wyatt Bibb reported in October 1819 that the town had been laid out and that lots would be auctioned to the highest bidders.[3] The town was planned on a grid system with streets running north and south named for trees and those running east and west named for famous men. The new statehouse was a two-story brick structure, measuring 40 feet (12 m) wide by 58 feet (18 m) long. By 1820 Cahaba had become a functioning state capital.[2] Cahaba's low elevation at the confluence of two large rivers gave it a reputation for flooding and having an unhealthy atmosphere. A major flood struck the town in 1825, causing a portion of the statehouse to collapse. People who were opposed to the capital's location at Cahaba used this as an argument for moving the capital to Tuscaloosa, which was approved by the legislature in January 1826.[3][4]


The town would remain the county seat of Dallas County for several more decades.[5] The town eventually recovered from losing the capital and reestablished itself as a social and commercial center. Cahaba, centered in the fertile "Black Belt", became a major distribution point for cotton shipped down the Alabama River to the port of Mobile. The addition of a railroad line in 1859 triggered a building boom in the town of Cahaba. On the eve of the American Civil War, more than 3,000 people called Cahaba home.[2]

During the Civil War, the [5] In February 1865 another flood inundated the town, causing much additional hardship for the roughly 3000 Union soldiers held in the prison, and for the town's citizens. Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Union General James H. Wilson discussed an exchange of prisoners, captured during the Battle of Selma, in Cahaba at the Crocheron mansion.


In 1866, the county seat was moved to nearby Selma, with businesses and families following. Within ten years, many of the houses and churches were dismantled and moved away.[2] During Reconstruction, the vacant courthouse became a meeting place for freedmen seeking new political power. A new rural community of former slave families replaced the old urban center. These families turned the vacant town blocks into fields and garden plots, though soon, even this community largely disappeared. Prior to the turn of the century, a former slave purchased most of the old town site for $500. He had the abandoned buildings demolished for their building materials and shipped by steamboat to Mobile and Selma.[3] By 1903, most of Cahaba's buildings were gone; only a handful of structures survived past 1930.[3][6]


Although the area is no longer inhabited, the Alabama Historical Commission maintains Cahaba as a state historic site and as an important archaeological site. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[7] Visitors to this park can still see many of the abandoned streets, cemeteries, and ruins of this former state capital.[6]


The town, and later its abandoned site, was the setting for many ghost stories during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the most widely known is that of a ghostly orb in a now-vanished garden maze at the home of C. C. Pegues. The house was located on a lot that occupied a block between Pine and Chestnut streets. The purported haunting was recorded with “Specter in the Maze at Cahaba” in 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.[8]

Notable people


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.