Bridgeport was called Jonesville (after Charles S. Jones, a major local landowner) as early as 1848. The first railway (the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad) was constructed to the town in 1852, and a bridge was constructed over the nearby Tennessee River in 1854 to connect the settlement with Chattanooga, Tennessee. The name of the town was then changed to Bridgeport to reflect the new construction. A second rail line connecting Bridgeport to Jasper, Tennessee, was begun in 1860 but not completed until after the Civil War.
On April 29, 1862, forces led by Union General Ormsby Mitchell seized control of Bridgeport and thus control of the strategic railroad bridge in the area. The area was fought over by the opposing armies until the summer of 1863, when Confederate troops burned the town as they retreated and Union forces took and maintained control of the bridge for the remainder of the conflict. The town hosted a Union field hospital and was the construction site of several Union steamships. Bridgeport became a major shipping point for supplies going to Union general William T. Sherman during his sweep through Georgia and Alabama.
The town enjoyed a period of development in the 1890s when Frank Kilpatrick, an investor from New York, began buying up real estate. The city was incorporated in either 1890 or 1891, with a second incorporation listed in 1907. During the nationwide financial crisis known as the Panic of 1893, however, many investors abandoned their building construction projects and the city's sudden growth halted. Businesses contributing to Bridgeport's economy today include a metals alloy manufacturer, a wood and coal heater manufacturer, a carpet fiber and backing manufacturer, a producer of biodiesel fuels, and a trucking firm.
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 Bridgeport.
Bridgeport’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 2,418. Of that number, 54.1 percent identified themselves as white, 42.6 as African American, 2.2 percent as Hispanic, 1.0 percent as two or more races, 0.7 percent as Native American, 0.4 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $36,282, and per capita income was $19,048.
The workforce in present-day Bridgeport is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (34.2 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (11.7 percent)
· Retail trade (11.5 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (8.5 percent)
· Construction (8.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.9 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.3 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.1 percent)
· Public administration (0.7 percent)
Bridgeport is intersected by State Road 277, which runs north-south through the city. State highway 72 runs west from the city.
Events and Places of Interest
The Bridgeport Train Depot Museum houses the offices of the Bridgeport Area Historical Association and includes collections of local artifacts, railroad memorabilia, and historical records dating back to 1807 that are available for research. The building is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, as are the Doran's Cove Church and Cemetery (c. 1850), the Kilpatrick-Hughes House (c. 1891), and the Whitcher-Denton House (c. 1891). The Bridgeport Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Each year on the fourth weekend in March, the city hosts a reenactment of the 1862 battle for control of the city's strategic
railroad bridge between Union and Confederate forces . The reenactment attracts some 1,500 participants who, in addition to
taking part in the battle, demonstrate what life was like for a soldier during the Civil War. Other events include an "anvil shoot," in which anvils
are flung more than 100 feet into the air, and a gala ball featuring period dress. In addition, the town holds an annual Jubilee
to celebrate the history and heritage of the area; it features live music, vendors, an antique car show, and other events.
The Heritage of Jackson County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 9, 2011
Last updated December 3, 2012