Ragland is located in northeast St. Clair County in the east-central part of the state. It has a mayor/council form of government. Rudy York, long-time major league baseball player in the late 1930s to mid-1940s, was born in Ragland.
Originally known as Trout Creek, the community that would become Ragland sprang up around several coal mines in the decade before the Civil War. The mines supplied coke to the Brierfield Furnace, which manufactured weapons for the Confederacy. The mines closed briefly until the railroad came through in 1882. The town then expanded around the railroad stop that served coal mines in the area owned by George Ragland.
In September 1899, citizens of the town petitioned for incorporation under the name Ragland. Coal mining and the timber industry were the main economic drivers during its early years, in addition to a cement plant and a brick manufacturer. Cotton was a main cash crop until the land became depleted from overuse. Ragland's first school was constructed as early as 1907. A new city hall and jail were built in 1913, and a fire company was organized in 1916 after several destructive blazes in the business district. Brick manufacturing remains an essential part of the Ragland economy today, as does the production of of cement.
Ragland's population according to the 2010 Census was 1,639. Of that number, 82.8 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 15.4 percent as African American, 0.9 percent as two or more races, 0.3 percent as Hispanic, 0.1 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $32,292, and the per capita income was $16,690.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Ragland was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Manufacturing (28.6 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (23.5 percent)
· Retail trade (12.8 percent)
· Construction (6.8 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (6.0 percent)
· Public administration (5.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (2.5 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (2.4 percent)
· Information (1.7 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (1.6 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.1 percent)
Schools in Ragland are part of the St. Clair County School System; the town has approximately 613 students and 42 teachers in one high school.
County Road 26 runs east-west through Ragland, and State Highway 144 runs north-south. Interstate Highway 59 is about 10 miles northwest of the city.
Harkey's Chapel Methodist Church, located west of Ragland, is on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The Ragland
Depot Museum is open by appointment and houses railroad history artifacts as well as artifacts from the town's history. Ten
Island Park near Neely Henry Dam offers fishing, boating, and swimming.
Sisson, Rubye Hall Edge. From Trout Creek to Ragland: A History of Ragland, St. Clair County, Alabama. Cullman, Ala.: The Gregath Company, 1889.
St. Clair County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of St. Clair County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
James P. Kaetz
Published August 15, 2012
Last updated February 28, 2013