Old Cahawba Archaelogical Park
Posted by: xptwo
N 32° 19.170 W 087° 06.269
16S E 490165 N 3575855
Quick Description: Once the site of the first capital of Alabama, Cahawba became deserted in the years after the Civil War. The Alabama Historical Commission has been buying property to allow people to learn about this once prosperous community.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 4/17/2012 5:52:37 AM
Waymark Code: WME87B
Cahawba (also spelled Cahaba) was the first capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1825, when the government moved to Tuscaloosa after severe flooding. The town survived as the Dallas County seat and as a place for commerce such as the shipping of cotton on the Alabama River. As the town grew, more houses and businesses were established. The economy was based on river traffic until the railroad built a line to the city in 1859. Unfortunately, the Confederate government tore up the tracks to use them on a higher priority railroad.
In 1837, that Richard Crocheron came to Cahawba to help run a family retail business established by his uncles. He built this mansion beside the store and brought his wife here. After her death in 1850, he sold his property and moved back north with his children. During the Civil War, the house was the place where Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest met with Union General James Wilson after the Battle of Selma. They discussed prisoner exchanges and went their separate ways.
Also at Cahawba was a Confederate prisoner-of-war facility, which had been converted from a warehouse. Starting with some 660 men, the population grew to almost 3,000. The conditions were deplorable, but they still had a death rate of about 2%, low for prisons on both sides. It is popularly known as Castle Morgan. Sadly, many of the men who were released from the prison wound up on the Sultana river boat and lost their lives in that tragic event.
In 1865, another flood led to the move of the county seat to Selma, and the area began its decline. By the late 1800s to early 1900s, many of the brick houses were dismantled to get the brick so for shipment to other places. At that time, used brick was much cheaper than new. By the 1930s, few structures remained. The area is now maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission, which continues to purchase land to preserve the site.
The coordinates are for the Visitor Center. They have information and advice for those who wish to explore the area. There is no admission charge. The park is open daily from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.. The Welcome Center is open daily from noon to 5:00 P.M. The web page for the park is: (visit link