Opp is located in northeast Covington County in the south-central part of the state. It is best known for its annual Rattlesnake Rodeo, which attracts as many as 20,000 visitors each year.
The first white settler in the area was Walker Patrick, who in 1880 bought 160 acres in the area for a farm and built a house and store on the property. The area at the time was known variously as Hallton or Cool Springs. The first post office was established in the late 1800s. The city of Opp grew up along the route of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, at a point where the line ran south and east. When the railroad came through, local entrepreneur Alex Hart bought land along its route and subdivided it in lots to sell that made up the downtown area.
Opp was named after Henry Opp, an L&N lawyer and future mayor of Andalusia, for his role in defending L&N's survey of a right of way for its line, which had been contested by the Central of Georgia Railroad. The post office moved to the new town in 1900, and a turpentine distillery opened nearby. A town charter was granted by the state legislature in 1901, and the town officially incorporated in 1902. Cotton mills and a furniture manufacturer became the sustaining industries in the 1920s. After World War II, the apparel industry provided employment until its decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Opp's population according to the 2010 Census was 6,659. Of that number, 80.9 percent identified themselves as white, 16.7 percent as black, 1.2 percent as two or more races, 0.9 percent as Hispanic, 0.6 percent as Native American, and 0.3 percent as Asian. The city's median household income was $26,024, and per capita income was $18,331.
The workforce in present-day Opp is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.5 percent)
· Manufacturing (19.0 percent)
· Retail trade (15.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (7.5 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.9 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.3 percent)
· Construction (5.9 percent)
· Public administration (5.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (3.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.5 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.2 percent)
Schools in Opp are part of the Opp City School District; the town has approximately 1,372 students and 80 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. Lurleen B. Wallace Community College operates a campus in the city.
Opp is bisected north-south by U.S. Highway 331. U.S. Highway 84 runs west and south from the city, and State Highway 134 runs east from the city. The South Alabama Regional Airport with one runway is located about 15 miles west of the city.
Events and Places of Interest
The Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo is held annually on the first full weekend of April. The festival includes arts and crafts booths, food vendors, a 5K run, and musical acts. Some 20,000 people attend the festival each year. Although a popular event, it has stirred controversy among conservationists and wildlife biologists for the number of animals killed during the event and the effects of the methods used to collect them on other wildlife. Opp Fest is held the last Saturday in October. The city also holds a Christmas Parade in early December.
The Opp Commercial Historic District and the William T. Shepard House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Alex Hart House and the Mizzell Mansion are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Frank Jackson State Park is located just north of town, with fishing, water sports, and camping.
Covington County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Covington County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2003.
James P. Kaetz
Published October 27, 2011
Last updated March 21, 2013