Located in east-central Alabama, Coosa County is home to several recreational water resources, including Lakes Lay, Martin, and Mitchell. During the late twentieth century, the county was a center of the textile industry. The county is governed by an elected
five-member commission and includes three incorporated communities.
· Founding Date: December 18, 1832
· Area: 657 square miles
· Population: 11,539 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Coosa River
· Major Highways: U.S. 280, U.S. 231
· County Seat: Rockford
· Largest City: Goodwater
Coosa County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 18, 1832. The county was one of 14 counties organized from lands ceded by the Creek Indians in the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta. A site on Hatchet Creek was chosen as the county seat and given the name Lexington. In 1835 the name was changed to Rockford. The first railroad, the Central Railway of Georgia, was completed in 1888 at the town of Goodwater. The Coosa River has long played an important part in the history of the county. In 1914, the Alabama Power Company constructed Lay Dam on the Coosa River, creating Lay Lake in the northwestern corner of the county. In 1920, Alabama Power built Mitchell Dam on the Coosa, creating Mitchell Lake. In 1926, Alabama Power Company constructed the Thomas W. Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River, resulting in the formation of Lake Martin, a portion of which lies in the southeastern corner of the county.
Major Cities and Demographics
At the time of the 2000 census, Coosa County recorded a population of 11,539. Of that total, 66.3 percent of respondents identified
themselves as white, 31.0 percent as African American, 2.0 percent as Hispanic, 0.9 percent as two or more races, 0.3 as Native
American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. According to 2009 Census estimates, the median household income was $35,560, as compared
with $40,547 for the state as a whole, and the per capita income was $19,209, compared with $22,732 for the state as a whole.
The county seat, Rockford, had an estimated population of 477. The only other significant population center in the county
During the antebellum period, cotton was the major agricultural product in Coosa County. Farmers were forced to diversify in the post-Civil War years and turned to raising livestock as well as corn, wheat, and oats as supplemental crops. Given the county's many waterways, gristmills were a popular entrepreneurial endeavor. In 1874 the Central Railway of Georgia ran a spur to Goodwater, and the town became the commercial center of Coosa County. A line from Goodwater to Birmingham was completed in 1888, linking the town to the industrial and commercial hub of Alabama.
In 1966 textile manufacturer Avondale Mills opened a plant in Coosa County, providing the county with several hundred jobs in its spinning facilities. In 1999, the plant employed 350 workers and was producing 350,000 pounds of yarn per year. In May 2006, Avondale Mills announced plans to close its Coosa County plant. One month later it was announced that the plant had been sold to Parkman Mills, Inc. of North Carolina. Madix Inc., a manufacturer of office and store fixtures, partitions, and shelving, constructed a plant in Goodwater in the 1990s. Other business include Sterling Lumber Company, a sawmill and planing company, and Wingfield Engineering, a custom controls manufacturer and fabricator company.
The workforce in present-day Coosa County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (27.3 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.3 percent)
· Construction (13.7 percent)
· Retail trade (10.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.8 percent)
· Public administration (4.8 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (4.5 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (4.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.1 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (2.7 percent)
· Information (0.7 percent)
· Wholesale trade (0.4 percent)
The Coosa County School System currently employs approximately 100 teachers who serve more than 1,700 students in six schools.
Encompassing approximately 657 square miles, Coosa County lies wholly within the Piedmont physiographic section. It is bounded to the north by Talladega and Clay counties, to the east by Tallapoosa County, to the south by Elmore County, and to the west by Chilton and Shelby counties.
The Coosa River runs along the western border of the county, and several of its tributaries, including Paint, Weogufka, Hatchet,
Swamp, and Weoka creeks, cross the county. The county's major transportation routes are U.S. 280, which runs north-south in
the northeastern corner of the county, and U.S. 231, which runs north-south through the center of the county. Coosa County
Airport in Goodwater is the county's only public airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Five Star Plantation, built in 1919 in Kellyton, just south of Goodwater, is a 5,000-acre hunting reserve specializing in deer, turkey, and quail hunts. Lay, Martin, and Mitchell lakes offer some of the best fishing in the state, including spotted, striped, and largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. The three lakes also host several fishing tournaments. Old Jail, built around 1825, located in Rockford, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest jail in Alabama.
Brewer, George. History of Coosa County, Alabama. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1987.
Heritage of Coosa County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1999.
Patricia Hoskins Morton
Published August 29, 2007
Last updated October 27, 2014