Map showing the line of the
Savannah and Memphis Railroad and its connections.
Georgia was made a state in 1788.
Columbus, Georgia was founded in 1828. It was well situated for navigation along the Chattahoochee River and was along the last stretch of the Federal Road before it entered into Alabama. Once the railroads arrived in the 1850's, textile mills began to be established along the river and the city became an important industrial city as well as an agricultural center.
Alabama's oldest city is Mobile, which was founded in 1702 by French colonists. Alabama became a state in 1819. The early economy there centered around shipbuilding in the navigable port regions and agriculture in its inner regions. Cotton was grown abundantly throughout Alabama's fertile lands.
The Savannah & Memphis Railroad operated for about ten years following the American Civil War. There was much talk before the war began about building a narrow gauge railroad between Opelika and Talladega, and then Opelika and Tuscumbia, but the building didn't start until after the war ended. By that time the plan shifted to forming a line between Savannah and Memphis.
Youngsville was established in 1872 as a textile mill center. Rumors of an extension of the Savannah & Memphis being built to town prompted officials to quickly change the town's name to Alexander City, in honor of the railroad's president Edward P. Alexander.
The railroad was only able to fund its building from Opelika to Sturdivant before going bankrupt in 1874. In 1880 the completed railway portions were purchased by the Columbus & Western Railway.
Alabama began to regain its industrial interests in the 1870's. In 1872 the Louisville & Nashville completed a line between Montgomery on the Alabama River to Decatur on the Tennessee River. This instigated much talk about an extension into the rich iron ore regions of Red Mountain.
The vast Warrior Coal Field near Birmingham prompted railroad construction and industrial developement in much of northern Alabama.
This map of the southern United States was published in 1872 by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. It shows drainage, cities, towns, counties, mining and agricultural regions in Alabama, and the railroad network of 1872.