Small towns in Alabama are taking back what time, geography and economic factors have dictated what they shouldn’t be throughout the centuries. More than 215 Alabama towns with populations of 3,000 people or less are celebrating The Great Alabama Homecoming. All year long, towns, villages and small cities have celebrated their existence by bringing life and new opportunities to their hometowns and downtowns. As the year comes to a close, celebrations continue with festivals, parades and homecomings as a part of Alabama ‘s tribute Year of Alabama’s Small Towns and Downtowns.
Most towns or cities in Alabama were established in the 1800s. Town founders usually set down roots near a railroad or along a body of water. Both the railroad and rivers were vital means of economic growth as well as travel. As Alabama farming and business grew and prospered, so did Alabama towns. With the invention of motor vehicles, and later becoming a mode of mass transportation, emphasis was changed from rail and boat to cars and trucks. As Alabama roads were developed, small towns that were not located near highways saw the demise of their prosperity.
Towns and cities located near these highways became the centers of commerce for outlying towns and villages. Town leaders with vision and money started banks and businesses in order to invest in the growth of their cities. Some towns established colleges, universities and community colleges. Still others partnered with the United States government for military base installations. All of these – banks, businesses, colleges and military bases caused these cities to continue to grow and offer more economic opportunities.
In 1850, cotton was king in the state of Alabama . By 1950, Alabama had moved away from the agrarian lifestyle in major cities such as Birmingham , Montgomery and Mobile .
Alabama was still in need of advancements in employment and education. Many young adults left the towns in which they were born for jobs in Birmingham . Others migrated north to Detroit seeking work in the auto industry.
Many former residents who moved away from Alabama retire and return to their old hometowns to live a quieter life surrounded by southern familiarity and warmer temperatures.
As historians study Alabama and learn the backgrounds of some Alabama towns, there is a new heartfelt appreciation for southern life, hospitality and food. The Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns is an opportunity for reunions and homecomings, and learning about all the accomplishments of Alabamians – many of whom grew up in small towns.
The Great Alabama Homecoming continues in these cities celebrating in December:
Dec. 2 – Gulf Shores is host to There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays. For more information, call 251-968-1171.
Dec. 4 -Coffeeville hosts the Coffeeville Christmas Parade (251-275-8684)
Dec. 7 – Wilton hosts a Christmas Parade -(205-665-2021)
Dec. 11 – Dutton hosts the Dutton Community Christmas Parade/Open House (256-228-6392)
For more information about Alabama ‘s small town celebrations, visit Small Town Historic Markers: The Great Alabama Homecoming.
Here is a short list of Famous Alabamians and their towns
Harper Lee – Pulitzer Prize winning author – Monroeville
Hank Williams – country music legend – Georgiana
Coretta Scott King – wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights leader – Marion
Willie Mays – baseball player – Westfield
Jim Nabors -actor – Sylacauga
Heather Whitestone – Miss America – Dothan
George Wallace – Alabama Governor and Presidential candidate – Clio
David Satcher – Surgeon General – Anniston
Waldo Semon – inventor – Demopolis
Helen Keller – educator – Tuscumbia
See more famous Alabamians here:, or here, o r here at World Atlas webpages .
Alabama : Official Vacation Guide