Larry Lee Pollard Mural Brilliant was first known as Boston, in honor of a local family named Bostick. The town grew up around a coal mine opened in the late 1890s by the Aldridge Mining Company. The Illinois Central Railroad came through town at about the same time, making it easy to ship the coal to market. After the mine was sold to a Birmingham-based group of investors, its name was changed to the Brilliant Coal Company because the coal it produced had so few contaminants. At one time, the mine employed as many as 600 people.
Because of a name conflict with another Alabama municipality, Boston had to change its name when a post office was established; the name Brilliant was chosen in honor of the mine. Brilliant was first incorporated in 1927; it was reincorporated in 1957 when it added the remainder of the town of Boston that had not been included in the original incorporation. The Brilliant mine shut down in the 1950s. A manufactured homes factory became a major part of the local economy in 1987 but filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Brilliant recorded a population of 1,049. Of that number, 99.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 2.8 percent as Hispanic or Latino, and 0.9 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income was $26,316, and the per capita income was $15,456.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Brilliant was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (24.5 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (24.2 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (10.1 percent)
- Construction (8.7 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (6.7 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.7 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.4 percent)
- Public administration (5.0 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.7 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.7 percent)
- Retail trade (1.3 percent)
- Information (1.0 percent)
Schools in Brilliant are part of the Marion County school system; the town has one elementary school and one high school.
Interstate Highway 22 runs through the southern part of Brilliant traveling southeast-northwest, and State Highway 129 bisects the town running north-south. State Highway 44 runs west from the center of town.
Events and Places of Interest
Brilliant Depot Brilliant holds an annual Coal Fest to honor its roots as a coalmining town; the celebration is held in May and includes arts and crafts vendors, live music, artists, and food. Brilliant maintains one municipal park that includes baseball fields, a playground, and a pavilion that can be rented for special occasions. Dickinson’s Store is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and History.
Marion County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Marion County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.