History’s Highlights


Founding of Tuscaloosa dates to before 1816, when a Revolutionary War veteran, John Click, was living in what would become Tuscaloosa. He built a log house that was one of the first permanent structures in the city and one that stood until the early part of the twentieth century. Click’s house was also his mercantile business, where he would bring goods upriver from Mobile in a dug-out boat and transport them further north to Huntsville. Click was an active member of the community and in 1819 he served as a juror on the first Superior Court of Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa was named the county seat on December 13, 1819, one day before the State of Alabama was admitted to the United States.

Capitol Period

Tuscaloosa was Alabama’s 4th capitol location. The capitol was moved to Tuscaloosa from Old Cahaba due to a severe flood and Yellow Fever outbreak in 1826. The town found great success as a Boom town after the capitol arrived creating an influx of new business and migration into the area. However, this boom would be short lived due to the mismanagement of the local politicians and the creation of the State Bank. Though well intended, the politicians abused the power that the State Bank offered the Capitol Building and subsequently created a terrible deficit in the state budget. In 1846, the decision was made to relocate the Capitol for a 5th time, this time to somewhere more centrally located. All the paperwork, tables, chairs, and desks were packed onto wagons and moved down what is now Hwy 82 to Montgomery.

Civil War

Tuscaloosa initially did not intend to secede from the Union but relented and followed the other Southern States’ decisions. With The University of Alabama being an integral part of Tuscaloosa, the school was converted into a military school for the duration of the war. The University of Alabama trained young cadets to be officers for the Confederacy. This was potentially one of the reasons the Union Army targeted Tuscaloosa during their advancement through the South towards the end of the war. Brigadier General John T. Croxton and his Cavalry had been ordered to take Tuscaloosa as it was one of the final major supply and munitions centers for the Confederacy. On April 4, 1865, his forces crossed the Black Warrior River into Tuscaloosa and marched down to the University. Croxton was ordered to burn down the University.  Only 4 buildings survived which still stand today.  The war ended 5 days later on April 9th, 1865.

Transportation in Town

One of the major ways to reach Tuscaloosa has been the Black Warrior River. River boats have long made the treacherous journey from the Gulf of Mexico up the river and through the rocky shoals to Tuscaloosa delivering people and resources. Prior to the locks and dams along the river, the Black Warrior was only navigable during particular seasons. Until the automobile was created, the city used horses, carts, and even bicycles to get around the dirt roads downtown. Trains arrived to Tuscaloosa late and in 1871 the Alabama & Chattanooga rail finally reached Tuscaloosa. The newspaper article marking this day predicted that the railroad would make Tuscaloosa “not only the Lowell, but the Pittsburgh of the South”.