Hackleburg is located in Marion County in the northwest corner of Alabama. It has a mayor/council form of government. The town suffered considerable damage in the April 27, 2011, tornado that swept through northwest Alabama. It is also the birthplace of country music performer Sonny James.
Prior to non-Indian settlement, the Hackleburg area was home to the Chickasaws. White settlers arrived in the early in the 1800s, and a formal community arose at the intersection of several stage roads and Jackson’s Military Road constructed by the federal government after the conclusion of the Creek War of 1813-14 and named for its victor, Gen. Andrew Jackson. The town itself was named for the abundant hackberry trees in the area.
Hackleburg Tornado Damage In 1848, telegraph lines were laid along Jackson’s Military Road and a grist mill, cotton gin, and sawmill were soon established. By 1884, a general stored opened in Hackleburg, followed by a post office in 1885. The Illinois Central Railroad ran a line through the town in the early 1900s, prompting the construction of a train station and worker housing. (The station would close in 1968.) Hackleburg incorporated on August, 23, 1909. Education was primarily provided in churches until a high school was constructed in 1923, followed by an elementary school in 1936. In 1929, work began on U.S. Highway 43, which would connect Mobile, Mobile County, and Columbia, Tennessee, through Hackleburg.
A tornado destroyed much of the town on April 12, 1943, killing four and injuring dozens of citizens. The scene was tragically repeated on April 27, 2011, when a Category 5 tornado swept through Hackleburg, killing 18 and destroying numerous homes and businesses, including a Wrangler jeans distribution facility that was the town’s largest employer. The company opened a new facility on April 29, 2013, almost exactly two years after the original plant was destroyed.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Hackleburg recorded a population of 1,483. Of that number, 97.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 1.2 as two or more races, 0.7 percent as African American, 0.2 percent as Hispanic or Latino, and 0.2 percent as Asian. The median household income was $28,268 and the per capita income was $20,122.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Hackleburg was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (25.6 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (18.4 percent)
- Manufacturing (9.2 percent)
- Information (8.3 percent)
- Retail trade (7.5 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (6.8 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.6 percent)
- Public administration (4.8 percent)
- Construction (3.6 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (3.2 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (3.4 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (2.4 percent)
- Wholesale trade (1.2 percent)
Public education in Hackleburg is administered by the Marion County Board of Education, which one elementary school and one high school in the town. Both schools were destroyed by the April 27, 2011, tornado. Classes were held in mobile units prior to the opening of new facilities in 2015.
Hackleburg is accessed by U.S. Highway 43/State Highway 17, which runs north-south; State Highway 172, which runs east-west; and State Highway 253, which enters from the south.