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Downtown Sylacauga by night
Location of Sylacauga in Talladega County, Alabama
|• Mayor||Jim Heigl|
|• Total||20.41 sq mi (52.87 km2)|
|• Land||20.25 sq mi (52.45 km2)|
|• Water||0.16 sq mi (0.42 km2)|
|Elevation||545 ft (166 m)|
|• Density||594.27/sq mi (229.45/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0160702|
Sylacauga is a city in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 12,749.
Sylacauga is known for its fine white marble bedrock. This was discovered shortly after settlers moved into the area and has been quarried ever since. The marble industry was the first recorded industry in the Sylacauga area.
Sylacauga is the site of the first documented case of an object from outer space hitting a person. On November 30, 1954, a 4 kg (9 lb) piece of what became known as the Hodges Meteorite crashed through the roof of an Oak Grove house, bounced off a radio, and badly bruised Mrs. Ann Hodges, who was taking an afternoon nap.
Sylacauga is on the 2010 list of "100 Best Communities for Young People" by America's Promise Alliance.
The first historical account of the area comes from de Soto's chroniclers as his expedition traveled south along the east bank of the Coosa River in 1540, encountering the town of Talisi at the edges of the Mississippian-era chiefdoms of Coosa and Tuskaloosa.The inhabitants of the Coosa River Valley were later united as the confederacy of Creek people. Their later encounters with Spanish and French settlers had a significant influence on the history of Sylacauga.
Events that occurred among these three groups were partly responsible for the settlement of the village of Chalakagay in 1748 near modern Sylacauga by refugee Shawnee Indians, led by Peter Chartier. In 1759 Chalakagay was listed in the French territorial records as a town inhabited by 50 Shawnee warriors.Late in the summer of 1836 most of the remaining Native Americans in Alabama were rounded up and forcibly escorted west of the Mississippi River, by United States Army forces under the authorization of the Indian Removal Act. They were forced to cede their land claims in the Southeast to yield to development by European Americans.
The name Sy-la-cau-ga is derived from the Indian words Chalaka-ge, which mean "The Place of the Chalaka Tribe".The city was first incorporated in 1838 as Syllacoga, and again in 1887 as Sylacauga.
Several important roads traversed the region as early as the 1830s. Numerous ferries connected communities on opposite sides of the rivers. In 1852, a plank road was built from Montgomery, the capital, to Winterboro, Alabama, passing through Sylacauga. The first railroad through Sylacauga was the Anniston and Atlantic Railroad, completed through here on December 1, 1886. In 1838, the first Sylacauga post office was established, with George Washington Stone as postmaster. He later served as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The first newspaper, the Sylacauga Argus, started publication in 1887. The paper was printed and edited in Calera by H.G. McCall.
Sylacauga's main thoroughfare is Broadway Avenue. The first building on this street was built in 1890 by the Smith Brothers.
Known as "The Marble City", Sylacauga was developed on a solid deposit of what is claimed to be the finest marble in the world. Some of the most beautiful buildings in the country, such as the United States Supreme Court, the Al Jolson Shrine in California, the Woolworth building in Houston, Texas, and many others have been constructed and ornamented with Sylacauga marble.
Sylacauga is located slightly to the east of the geographical center of the state of Alabama in Talladega County. The city is roughly 51 miles (82 km) southeast of Birmingham, 63 miles (101 km) north of Montgomery, and 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Anniston, Alabama.
The first recorded discovery of marble was in 1820 by Dr. Edward Gantt, a physician who had accompanied General Andrew Jackson through the area in 1814. Even Gantt probably did not realize the extent of this calcium carbonate deposit. The deposit is part of the "Murphy Marble Belt", extending 32 by 1.5 miles (51.5 by 2.4 km) by 400 feet (120 m) deep. It is the world's largest commercial deposit of madre cream marble.[ citation needed ]
In the 1830s, several quarries were opened in Talladega County and perhaps one in neighboring Coosa County. Using the old Plank Road, the operators shipped marble throughout central Alabama. By 1906, New York interests had bought Gantt's quarry from its Ocala, Florida investors. This site became the center of marble-working activity. An elite town developed in and around this property, later called the Alabama Marble Company.
By the start of the 20th century, Sylacauga quarries had an established reputation, and shipments were being made throughout the state. Although structural marble was being produced to some extent, a very lucrative use of marble was found in the steel industry. More and more of the Sylacauga deposits were being blasted and used for fluxing steel. Later dolomite replaced marble in this process. In spite of the approaching depression, the late 1920s and early 1930s were times of spectacular growth for Sylacauga's marble industry.
Technology changed the course of the industry when electricity replaced steam. Countless small marble operations had sprung up throughout the years. Facing tough competition, many went out of business or were absorbed by the larger companies, Alabama and Moretti-Harrah. One such significant merger was in 1929 when the Madras Marble Company (formerly Sylacauga Marble Corporation) merged with Moretti-Harrah.
In 1935 the Moretti-Harrah Company was sold to B.F. Coggins of Atlanta and T.A. McGahey of Columbus, Mississippi. In 1944 Coggins sold the Sylacauga operation and Columbia Marble Company of North Carolina to McGahey. The Alabama Marble Company remained under its own management until 1963, when it merged with the Georgia Marble Company.
The reputation of Sylacauga marble producers was shown by use of their marble on numerous building projects throughout the nation. Alabama Marble Company supplied marble for the 19th-century projects in Washington, DC, the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. Marble supplied for the Washington monument was so like its Italian counterpart, Carrara marble, that it was placed aside until a confirmation of its origin could be made. Moretti-Harrah, in a 3 1⁄2 year project shared with Gray-Knox Marble Company of Knoxville, supplied much of the marble for the U.S. Supreme Court building, including 36 massive interior columns measuring 22’ long x 3’4” in diameter.
Listing all the buildings that use this lustrous stone would be difficult. Other memorable projects are the Dime Savings Bank (New York), the Mercedes-Benz showroom (New York), the Chicago Post Office, the Alabama Archives Building, the Chrysler Mausoleum (New York), and the Al Jolson Shrine (California). Beautiful cream marble from Sylacauga can be found in hotels, offices, mausoleums, memorials and homes across the country.
Noted sculptor Gutzon Borglum, creator of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, sculpted a masterpiece from Alabama marble – the bust of Abraham Lincoln. It is located in the rotunda of the nation's Capitol. Borglum commented that the fine texture of Alabama marble enabled him to portray the expression of kindness on Lincoln's face that he had never been able to do with any other stone.
By the 1940s endless uses for calcium products extracted from marble deposits became obvious. Calcium was needed for agricultural, pharmaceutical and paint products. Alabama Marble Company had already moved in this direction, having introduced its first Raymond Mill products for animal feed, insecticides, and joint cement materials in 1933. By-products were sold under the name of Alabama Calcium Products. By 1964, the company had completed one of the largest multi-product calcium carbonate plants in the United States, and in 1967 it closed its structural marble plant.
Moretti-Harrah chose to continue its structural finishing operations. With increasingly fast and updated precision machinery, it introduced new lines of tile, window sills, and other building products. In addition, Moretti-Harrah expanded operations to include calcium products, entering into a partnership with Thompson-Weinman and Company of Cartersville, Georgia, in 1944. In 1956, Thompson-Weinman expanded its own crushing operation in Sylacauga. Sylacauga Calcium Products was formed as a division of Moretti-Harrah.
Thompson, Weinman and Company remained privately owned until 1975, when it was purchased by Cyprus Mines Corporation. In 1979 Cyprus Mines was purchased by Standard Oil Company of Indiana, and it became a subsidiary of Amoco Minerals Company.
In 1983 an expansion project of its calcium carbonate facilities was conducted. The expansion involved the installation of additional grinding capacity and new mill facilities to enable increased production. Calcium carbonate, long used as the coating of paper, became an important filler as the paper industry converted from acid-based paper making systems to alkaline systems. In 1988 English China Clays (ECC) International purchased Moretti Harrah, and in 1989 ECC purchased Cyprus Thompson Weinman. Then, Georgia Marble Company purchased Cyprus Thompson Weinman.
In 1995, Imetal Group of Paris acquired the Georgia Marble Company, allowing this international company to strengthen its U.S. presence in the white pigments industry. Between 1994 and 1998, Imetal doubled in size; one-third through sales growth and two-thirds through acquisition. In 1999, Imetal acquired ECC. At that time the corporate name was changed to Imerys, to reflect a new minerals processing organization.
The city is located in southern Talladega County. Major highways that run through the city include US Routes 280 and 231, as well as Alabama State Route 21. US 280 runs northwest to southeast through the city, leading northwest (with US 231) 10 mi (16 km) to Childersburg and 47 mi (76 km) to Birmingham. US 280 runs southeast 26 mi (42 km) to Alexander City and US 231 runs south 21 mi (34 km) to Rockford. Alabama 21 runs northeast 21 mi (34 km) to the city of Talladega.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Sylacauga has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 12,749 people, 5,215 households, and 3,419 families residing in the town. The population density was 681.0 people per square mile (262.9/km2). There were 5,748 housing units at an average density of 310.3 per square mile (119.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 69.17% White, 28.91% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. 0.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 5,215 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,533, and the median income for a family was $40,275. Males had a median income of $32,092 versus $21,990 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,209. About 16.6% of families and 21.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.6% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.
The workforce in present-day Sylacauga is divided among the following occupational categories:
Sylacauga supports jobs in the service industry, manufacturing, and retail. Major employers include Blue Bell Creameries, IMERYS, Nemak Alabama, Omya Alabama Inc., Pursell Technologies, Wal-Mart, Home-Depot, and Farm Links. More than 140 manufacturers draw employees from the Sylacauga area.
The Sylacauga Public Library, founded in 1936, moved into a new Works Progress Administration (WPA) building in 1939 and was renamed in honor of local factory owner and former Alabama governor B. B. Comer. The present building, erected in 1979, was refurbished and expanded in 2003 to include meeting rooms and a conference center. The B. B. Comer Memorial Library Foundation, formed in 1991, supports education, enrichment, and entertainment for parts of several counties and has won a National Award for Library Service from the Institute of Museum & Library Services. The library's popular Brown Bag lunch series offers a wide range of subjects and often draws crowds in excess of 100 people.
The Isabel Anderson Comer Museum and Arts Center opened in 1985. Housed in the former city library, the museum contains an exhibit of the geological history of Sylacauga marble along with works by the Italian sculptor and quarry investor Giuseppe Moretti, his assistant Geneva Mercer, and contemporary artists Frank Fleming and Craigger Browne. The museum's Native Sons Gallery honors U.S. congressman William Flynt Nichols, U.S. Army Lieutenant General James W. Crysel, whose 33-year military career included receiving the Distinguished Service Medal, and singer and actor Jim Nabors, a 1947 graduate of Sylacauga High School.
In 2009, Sylacauga held its first marble festival as part of a cultural exchange with Pietrasanta in Italy, in connection with the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The community plans to make this festival an annual event.
Sylacauga offers many other opportunities for outdoor activities, including Noble Park, with a skate park, playground, and picnic and grill areas as well as a quarter-mile walking track; a city pool that is converted to an indoor pool in the winter months; Lake Howard, which has areas for boating, fishing, and pavilions; several neighborhood parks; the Sylaward Trail, a 15-mile (24 km) hiking and mountain-biking trail that runs through the Talladega National Forest; and two golf courses, Sylacauga Country Club and Farm Links.
Sylacauga is governed via the mayor-council system. The city council consists of five members each elected from one of five districts. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote to a four-year term. The city operates its own full-time police department, fire department, code enforcement, municipal court, street department, recreational department, city clerks office, and utilities board.
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The Sylacauga City Schools school system is governed by a five-member board of education, whose members are appointed by the City Council of Sylacauga for staggered five-year terms. This group formulates the policies that govern the system. The day-to-day operation of the school system is entrusted to the Superintendent of Schools, who is appointed by the Board of Education. The school system also must comply with regulations of the State Board of Education, a body of eight elected officials, which oversees state educational policies. Sylacauga City Schools has enjoyed a long history of excellence in education having been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for many years.
The first school to be accredited was SHS in 1947, with NLMS (as East Highland) in 1954, and IV and PC accredited in 1973. The combined instructional administration in SCS has 146 years as administrators, with 360 total years' experience in education and 274 years' of experience in SCS. The total enrollment is 2,364 students, with almost half of those students transported to and from school by buses using 15 different routes. Sylacauga City Schools employs 317 people and contracts with additional personnel as needed.
Today four schools that make up the City of Sylacauga school system. Indian Valley Elementary is a fully independent facility that educates K-2. Pinecrest Elementary is a fully independent facility that educates grades 3–5. Nichols-Lawson Middle is a fully independent facility that educates grades 6–8. Sylacauga High is a fully independent, state-of-the-art facility that educates grades 9-12.
Sylacauga lies on State Highway 21, which provides connections to U.S. Highways 280 and 231. Three major railroads serve the city—Norfolk Southern, CSX, and the Eastern Alabama Railway—along with eight major motor freight carriers, two of which maintain local terminals. Lee Merkle Field is the local airport. The city also has public transportation via buses.
Sylacauga Municipal Airport (FAA LID: SCD), also known as Lee Merkel Field, is a city-owned public-use airport located west of the central business district of Sylacauga. It is the closest air transportation connection to southeast Birmingham and north Shelby County. The airport has a 5,400-foot (1,600 m) runway with GPS approaches to LPV minimums.
Coosa County is located in the east central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 11,539. Its county seat is Rockford. Its name derives from a town of the Creek tribe and the Coosa River, which forms one of the county borders.
Shelby County is located in the central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The largest city is Alabaster. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Talladega County is a county located in the east central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 82,291. Its county seat is Talladega.
Goodwater is a town in Coosa County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 1,475. It is part of the Talladega-Sylacauga Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Rockford is a town in Coosa County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 477. The town is the county seat of Coosa County and is part of the Talladega-Sylacauga Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Childersburg is a city in Talladega County in the U.S. state of Alabama. It was incorporated in 1889. At the 2010 census the population was 5,175. It has a history dating back before 1540, when it was noted as a village of the Coosa Nation visited by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. It is said a member of De Soto’s crew fell ill and was left to settle in the area of present day childersburg where the Coosa people cared for the ill explorer. The Alabama Army Ammunition Plant, important during World War II, was located 4 miles (6 km) north of Childersburg.
Gantts Quarry is a quarry and ghost town in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. The population was 0 at the 2000 census, although it had seven residents as late as the 1998 population estimate. Incorporated in 1910 to keep neighboring Sylacauga from annexing it, it was officially disincorporated after its population dwindled to zero effective December 31, 2001.
Talladega is the county seat of Talladega County, Alabama, United States. It was incorporated in 1835. At the 2010 census the population was 15,676. Talladega is approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of Birmingham.
U.S. Route 280 is a spur of U.S. Highway 80. It currently runs for 392 miles (631 km) from Blichton, Georgia at US 80 to Birmingham, Alabama at I-20/I-59. For much of its route, US 280 travels through rural areas and smaller cities in southern Georgia and east central Alabama. Once the highway approaches Birmingham, it is a major suburban route. Numerous shopping centers are located on US 280 throughout northern Shelby County and southern Jefferson County.
Eastern Alabama Railway, LLC is one of many short line railroad companies owned by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.. On November 26, 1990, the line was sold by CSX to the Eastern Alabama Railway, a subsidiary of Kyle Railways. Kyle Railways later sold the EARY to RailAmerica in 2002 and RailAmerica was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming in 2012.
Giuseppe Moretti was an Italian émigré sculptor who became known in the United States for his public monuments in bronze and marble. Notable among his works is Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, which is the largest cast iron statue in the world. On a personal level, Moretti was "known for his eclectic personality and for always wearing a green tie," but professionally, is claimed to be "the first man to use aluminum in art." Moretti enjoyed some celebrity in his lifetime, and was a friend of famed Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. It is even reported that the singer repeatedly praised Moretti's voice.
WYEA is a radio station broadcasting a country music format. Licensed to Sylacauga, Alabama, United States, and two of only three commercial radio stations in Talladega County, they are owned and operated by Marble City Media LLC.
The 1932 Deep South tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that struck the Southern United States on March 21–22, 1932. At least 36 tornadoes—including 27 killers and several long-lived tornado families—struck the Deep South, killing more than 330 people and injuring 2,141. Tornadoes affected areas from Mississippi north to Illinois and east to South Carolina, but Alabama was hardest hit, with 268 fatalities; the outbreak is considered to be the deadliest ever in that U.S. state, and among the worst ever in the United States, trailing only the Tri-State Tornado outbreak in 1925, with 747 fatalities, and the Tupelo-Gainesville outbreak in 1936, with 454 fatalities. The 1932 outbreak is believed to have produced 10 violent tornadoes, which would be classified in modern records as F4 or F5 on the Fujita scale of tornado intensity, eight of which occurred in Alabama alone.
The Montgomery, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area is a metropolitan statistical area in central Alabama. As of 2010, the MSA had a population of 374,536, ranking it 136th among United States metropolitan areas.
Kellyton is an incorporated town in Coosa County, Alabama, United States. It had a population of 217 as of the 2010 census.
Central Alabama Community College (CACC) is a two-year institution of higher learning located in Alexander City, Alabama. The college enrolls 1700 students and has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1969. As of 2018, the college has two campuses: the Alexander City Campus and the Childersburg Campus, and two instructional centers: the Talladega Center and the Pratt’s Mill Center in Prattville.
Sylacauga marble, also commonly known as Alabama marble, is a marble that is found in a belt running through Talladega County, Alabama. It is prized for its pure white color and its crystalline structure. The stone is named after the town of Sylacauga, Alabama, which is sometimes called "the Marble City". Sylacauga marble has been called the "world's whitest". Discovered in 1814, it has been mined for over 160 years, and is used for building, sculpture, and industry. The Alabama Legislature passed Act 755 on September 12, 1969, which made this marble the state's official rock.
The Birmingham metropolitan area, sometimes known as Greater Birmingham, is a metropolitan area in north central Alabama centered on Birmingham, Alabama.
Geneva Mercer was an American artist from Alabama. Best known as a sculptor, she was also an accomplished painter in her later years. Although most of her early work with Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti was done under his name, her best known individual works include Joyous Boy, Pied Piper, the Flimp Fountain, and several Julia Tutwiler sculptures located at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, University of Alabama, and University of Montevallo. She was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1989.
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