Citronelle is located in north-central Mobile County in the southwest corner of the state. Major League Baseball player Carvell “Bama” Rowell was born and raised in Citronelle.


Surrender Oak The area now encompassing Citronelle was in the territory of the Chickasaw tribe, and one of their settlements was recorded as being called Citronelle in Peter J. Hamilton’s 1897 book Colonial Mobile. He notes that botanist William Bartram visited the area in 1775 to collect specimens of the plant Collinsonia canadensis, known locally as “citronella” and growing abundantly. Although settlers appeared in the area as early as 1820, the incorporated town owes its existence to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which completed a line through the area to connect with Mobile in 1852. The town was laid out by representatives of the railroad, because of the abundance of introduced citronella plants in the area. The first train ran on the line in 1852. The railroad promoted the town as a health resort because of its altitude and mineral springs and created brochures to encourage tourism. Increasing visits of tourists spurred the construction of several hotels. Early industries in the area included turpentine plants, sawmills, and pecan and fruit orchards.

Citronelle Oil Field Citronelle lays claim to being the site of the last surrender of Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. On May 4, 1865, Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Dabney H. Maury surrendered to U.S. Army major general Edward R. S. Canby after their defeat in the Battle of Spanish Fort. For many years afterward, the surrender was re-enacted on the site under a town tree that became known as the “Surrender Oak” until its loss in a hurricane in 1902. Citronelle was incorporated in 1892, and the library was constructed the following year. Electricity came to the town in 1899. The volunteer fire department was established in 1903, and water and sewer service were provided by 1916.

In recent decades Citronelle has become a center of oil production. The first well was attempted as early as 1902 but ended in failure with a broken drill bit. Oil was discovered north of town in 1955.


According to 2020 Census estimates, Citronelle recorded a population of 3,919. Of that number, 73.0 percent identified themselves as white, 20.7 percent as African American, 5.1 percent as two or more races, 1.2 percent as American Indian, and 0.8 as Hispanic or Latino. The town’s median household income was $43,884, and the per capita income was $18,886.


According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Citronelle was divided among the following industrial categories:

  • Manufacturing (23.9 percent)
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.4 percent)
  • Construction (15.2 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (11.7 percent)
  • Retail trade (11.6 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (10.1 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (8.4 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (4.8 percent)
  • Public administration (4.6 percent)
  • Information (2.7 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (0.8 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)


Schools in Citronelle are part of the Mobile County School District; the town has one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. The city also has one private religious school.


U.S. Highway 45 and State Highway 17 run north-south through the city, County Road 41 runs north-south on the city’s east side, and County Road 96 runs east and west from the city.

Events and Places of Interest

Citronelle Depot Museum Barr’s Subdivision Historic District, Central Core Historic District, Citronelle Railroad Historic District, Willis G. Clark House, and the N.Q. and Virginia M. Thompson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Citronelle Depot, the Rosa A. Lott School, and the St. Thomas Episcopal Church are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The Citronelle Depot now houses the Citronelle Historic Preservation Society.

The Mill Creek Municipal Golf Course is an 18-hole course built around a lake and is open to the public. The Clayton Municipal Park includes an amphitheater, picnic area, baseball and softball fields, and a disc golf course.

Further Reading

  • Mobile County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Mobile County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants Inc., 2002.

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