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Cherokee

Claire M. Wilson, Auburn University
Downtown Cherokee
Cherokee is located in Colbert County in the northwest corner of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
History
The earliest white settlers to what is now the Cherokee area arrived in the early 1830s. Population increases by 1838 spurred construction of more roads to the area. The economy was based primarily on agriculture at this time. The first post office opened in 1856, and the U.S. Postal Service gave it the name Cherokee. In 1857, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad came through the area. A depot built in 1858-1859 to serve a new rail line through the town prompted a building boom, and lots laid out around the depot sold quickly. By 1862, the town had grown enough that the citizens voted to incorporate, officially adopting the name of the post office.
Cherokee Kayak Trail Grand Opening
Primarily because of its location on a railroad line, the town became a strategic target during the Civil War. Federal troops occupied the town three times. The town's economy suffered badly during Reconstruction but later recovered and continued to expand. By the early 1900s, the town had numerous stores, a grist mill, and a hotel. The first telephone system was installed in 1914 and electricity followed in 1920. Growth in Cherokee slowed as the nearby towns of Florence, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals expanded and drew business away, causing many downtown establishments to close.
Demographics
According to 2016 Census estimates, Cherokee recorded a population of 863. Of that number, 77.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 19.8 percent as African American, 2.8 percent as Hispanic, and 2.3 percent as two or more races. The town's median household income was $29,674, and the per capita income was $19,018.
Employment
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Cherokee was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Manufacturing (34.3 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (12.0 percent)
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (8.7 percent)
  • Retail trade (8.3 percent)
  • Public administration (7.7 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.7 percent)
  • Construction (4.7 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, and administrative and waste management services (4.3 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (4.0 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (4.0 percent)
  • Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (2.3 percent)
  • Information (1.3 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.7 percent)
Education
Cherokee is part of the Colbert County Schools and has one elementary school and one high school.
Transportation
Cherokee is served by U.S. Highway 72 and County Road 20, both of which run east-west through the town, and County Road 21, which runs north-south through the town.
Events and Places of Interest
Coon Dog Monument
Each July, Cherokee celebrates Independence Day with an annual Cherokee 4th of July Street Dance. The Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, just outside Cherokee, is a cemetery devoted to coonhound breeds. Barton Hall (ca. 1825) is a National Historic Landmark and is located just off the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs past Cherokee, as is the Buzzard Roost Spring, the site of an inn owned by Chickasaw leader Levi Colbert between 1800 and 1824. The Hodge-Blackburn-Twitty House (c. 1844) is on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Barton Hall and Buzzard Roost are on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2018, the town established the Cherokee Kayak Trail, an eight-mile route on Bear Creek. The town provides rentals and drop-off and pick-up service along the trail for a fee.
In June 2018, the town opened the Cherokee Kayak Trail, an eight-mile route on Bear Creek to highlight area wildlife and scenic spots; the town provides drop off and pick up services with kayak rentals, and there are numerous sandbars for stopping along the route.

Additional Resources

Colbert County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Colbert County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
Published:  November 6, 2012   |   Last updated:  February 14, 2022