Piedmont is located primarily in Calhoun County, although part of the city also is located in Cherokee County, in the northeast part of the state. The Chief Ladiga Trail, part of the longest paved bicycle trail in the nation, runs through Piedmont. Noted journalist and author Rick Bragg was born in Piedmont.
The Piedmont area, located at the crossroads of two early post roads, has been a settlement since the 1840s. It has been known at various times as Hollow Stump (allegedly because mail was at one point deposited in and picked up from a hollow stump), Griffen's Creek, and Cross Plains (beginning about 1851), because of the many Native American trails that had converged there. The town was incorporated in 1871 as Cross Plains; its first newspaper, established the year before incorporation, was called the Cross Plains Democrat.
The Selma, Rome, and Dalton Railroad was built through town in 1868; that line went bankrupt and was bought in receivership by the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad in 1881. (In 1984, the town's rail line was bought by the Southern Railroad which operated rail service until 1989.) The area received its current name from the U.S. Postal Service in 1888; it derives from the town's location in the Piedmont region of the state and is similar to the French and Italian words for an area characterized by the foothills of a larger mountain chain.
The Piedmont Electric Light and Generating Company brought the first electricity, from a steam-powered generator, in the very early twentieth century. Piedmont's public school system was established in 1900.
Piedmont's population according to the 2010 Census was 4,878. Of that number, 87 percent of respondent's identified themselves as white, 10 percent as African American, 1.9 percent as two or more races, 1.3 percent as Hispanic, 0.5 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The city's median household income was $85,947, and per capita income was $33,807.
The workforce in present-day Piedmont is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (20.2 percent)
· Public administration (13.8 percent)
· Retail trade (13.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (12.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (10.3 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.0 percent)
· Construction (5.3 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.2 percent)
· Manufacturing (4.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.4 percent)
· Information (2.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.2 percent)
Schools in Piedmont are part of the Piedmont City School District; the town has approximately 1,057 students and 63 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. Two private schools in the area serve approximately 66 students. Jacksonville State University is located about 12 miles from Piedmont.
U.S. Highway 278 runs east-west just north of Piedmont, and State Highway 21 runs through the city from east to west. State Highway 9 runs north-south through the city. The Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport with one runway is located about 12 miles north of the city.
Events and Places of Interest
Piedmont has two city parks with walking trails, basketball courts, playground areas, and picnic pavilions. The city also has a sports complex with baseball, softball, soccer fields, and batting cages. The Clyde H. Pike Civic Center includes exercise facilities and classes, and a Community Center offers banquet facilities and meeting rooms.
The Chief Ladiga Trail, a rails-to-trails recreational trail built on the former Seaboard/CSX Railroad, originated in Piedmont
in 1990; it is now part of the longest paved recreational trail in the United States. Housed in the former Selma, Rome, and
Dalton Railroad depot, the Piedmont Museum has exhibits illustrating the history of the town and the area. The Fain-Webb House,
Southern Railroad Depot, and the Pleasant Gap Country Store are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The Southern Railroad Depot also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Calhoun County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Calhoun County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
James P. Kaetz
Published October 27, 2011
Last updated July 27, 2012