Located in east-central Alabama, Tallapoosa County is home to Horseshoe Bend Military Park, site of the last battle of the Creek War, as well as Lake Martin and the Thomas Wesley Martin Dam. Alexander City is home to Russell Corporation, a major manufacturer of athletic wear, and was the birthplace and childhood home of National Football League star wide receiver
Terrell Owens. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission and includes the incorporated cities of Alexander
City, Dadeville, and East Tallassee.
· Founding Date: December 18, 1832
· Area: 701 square miles
· Population: 41,616 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Tallapoosa River
· Major Highways: U.S. 280
· County Seat: Dadeville
· Largest City: Alexander City
Tallapoosa County was created by the Alabama legislature on December 18, 1832, from land ceded by the Creek Indians in the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta. The name of the county is derived from the Tallapoosa River. Tallapoosa is believed to mean "pulverized rock" in a Muskogean Indian language, attesting to the rough Tallapoosa River waters that shaped the landscape of the area. Traders and settlers came to the area that would become Tallapoosa County via the Okfuskee Trail or the Upper Creek Trading Path, a southern route below the Appalachian barrier to the Mississippi Valley. In August 1814 the Creeks ceded nearly 23 million acres of territory under the Treaty of Fort Jackson, opening up much of central Alabama to settlement. The earliest settlers came from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. Some of the first towns were Alexander City, Dadeville, Carrville, Suzanna, and Walnut Hill. The most recent boundaries of Tallapoosa County were established in 1866, after a portion of Tallapoosa County was used to create Elmore County.
From 1832 to 1838, Okfuskee served as the first county seat. The first courthouse was a simple log structure built in 1833. In 1838, the county seat was moved to Dadeville, which was named for Major Francis Langhorne Dade, who died in the Seminole War. A log house served as the courthouse until 1839, when the first permanent courthouse, a two-story brick building, was completed. Alterations and renovations of the courthouse took place in 1861 and again in 1901, when matching bell towers were added to the northern and southern ends of the building. Small modifications were made to the courthouse in 1929 and 1947. In 1961, residents voted to construct a modern courthouse. The old courthouse was torn down, and a new courthouse was raised on the same site. It continues to serve Tallapoosa County today.
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including one person in the Tallapoosa County community of Dadeville.
Major Cities and Demographics
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Tallapoosa County was 41,616. Of that total, 69.9 percent of respondents
identified themselves as white, 26.6 percent as African American, 2.5 percent as Hispanic, 1.0 percent as two or more races,
0.5 percent as Asian, and 0.3 percent as Native American. The largest city in Tallapoosa County is Alexander City, with an
estimated population of 14,875. Other significant population centers include Tallassee (part of which lies in Elmore County), Dadeville, Camp Hill, and New Site. The median household income for Tallapoosa County
was $36,858, compared with $40,547 for the state as a whole, and the per capita income was $20,864, compared with $22,732
for the state as a whole.
Farming was the prevailing occupation of Tallapoosa County until well into the twentieth century. Wheat, corn, oats, and cotton were the county's main agricultural products. In the 1840s, one of the first textile mills was established at Tallassee Falls. Gold mining also caused a boom in some areas, especially Goldville and New Site, during the two decades preceding the Civil War. After the Civil War, Tallapoosa County remained largely agricultural but began to shift to a more industrial economy. In the early twentieth century, Alexander City Cotton Mills began operations, and Benjamin Russell opened Russell Corporation. Martin Dam was completed in 1926 and provided hydroelectric power to supply growing local industries. With the creation of Lake Martin, the Martin Dam also enhanced the recreation industry in Tallapoosa County. By the mid-twentieth century, Tallapoosa County had become a center for industry and recreation in the state.
The workforce in present-day Tallapoosa County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (23.7 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (20.6 percent)
· Retail trade (9.3 percent)
· Construction (8.6 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.5 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.4 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.3 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (5.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.2 percent)
· Public administration (3.2 percent)
· Information (1.3 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.1 percent)
The Tallapoosa County School District together with Alexander City Schools employs more than 2,500 teachers and administrators
who serve nearly 7,000 students in 12 primary and secondary schools. Central Alabama Community College, a two-year institution
headquartered in Alexander City, offers general academic, career, and technical programs.
Consisting of more than 700 square miles, Tallapoosa County is located in the east-central part of the state. The county is almost entirely within the Piedmont physiographic section. Its broken and hilly landscape consists of light, clay soils on the ridges and rich loam in the valleys. Tallapoosa County is bordered by Clay and Randolph counties to the north, Chambers and Lee counties to the east, Macon County to the south, and Elmore and Coosa counties to the west.
The Tallapoosa River runs north to south, bisecting the county. The rough falls of the river made early navigation difficult
and delayed industrial development in the area. Today, however, these falls allow for a number of increasingly popular whitewater
sporting activities. The 44,000-acre Lake Martin sits in the middle section of the Tallapoosa River, and Wind Creek State Park spans the shores of the lake. U.S. Highway 280 serves as Tallapoosa County's main transportation route. U.S. 280 runs northwest-southeast
through the middle of the county. The Camp Hill-Tallapoosa County Airport in Camp Hill and the Thomas C. Russell Field in
Alexander City are the county's two airports.
Events and Places of Interest
There are several recreational opportunities for visitors to Tallapoosa County. The 44,000-acre Lake Martin near Alexander City offers visitors opportunities for boating, swimming, and fishing. Spanning 1,445 acres along the shores of Lake Martin, Wind Creek State Park contains the largest state-operated campground in the United States, with 626 camping sites as well as picnic facilities and hiking trails.
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is a popular destination for visitors to Tallapoosa County. The site of the final battle of the First Creek War, Horseshoe Bend is a 2,040-acre park featuring a visitors' center with exhibits on the battle, Creek Indian culture, and frontier life. Each August, the park hosts the annual Muster on the Tallapoosa, which features a variety of activities relating to the history of Alabama in the early nineteenth century. Visitors can tour an authentic Tennessee Militia camp and experience demonstrations of frontier life.
The Alexander City Jazz Fest is one of central Alabama's largest events. The festival takes place each June at Strand City Park in Alexander City and the Lake Martin Amphitheater and draws crowds from throughout the Southeast. Each fall, Alexander City also hosts an Oktoberfest, which features food and entertainment as well as an antique car show.
The Charles E. Bailey Sr. Sportplex in Alexander City is a popular destination for locals. The complex offers five baseball
fields, softball fields, an archery range, a horse-riding arena, a gymnasium and swimming pool, a football and soccer stadium,
and an amphitheater. The Veteran's Memorial, an antique fire truck, a picnic pavilion, and the Imagination Station playground
are also a part of the park.
The Heritage of Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
Donna J. Siebenthaler
Published September 6, 2007
Last updated February 28, 2013