By Danny Crownover
ce upon a time there was a city known as Crudup, where the mines were active, the people traveled by horse or mule and buggy, the children attended school, the trains came through, people worked, socialized together, most everybody knew most everybody else and most all led the good life. But that city is no more.
Crudup was once located in between Reece City and Keener, just up from Attalla.
With its particular brand of society that can only be found in an area which was born and bred of the mines, the city, played out with the discovery of higher grades of iron ore in other out-of-the-way places in other counties.
Most of the miners were quick to follow the discoveries, in order to hold on to a mining job, with their wives and children in tow.
The great exodus from Crudup caused the commissary to close down. The small country school eventually led to the death of the thriving little city which was Crudup.
The trains don’t stop in Crudup now, as they once did, to leave the mail at the post office, pick up new passengers and pick up the ore from the mines. Now there is no ore being dug in the deep, dark holes. No passengers board the trains which now speed through the area; and there is no longer a post office where citizens gather to talk of new-fangled motor cars or of a coming World War I.
But they did gather, once upon a time. The women would dress in long, flowing dresses and the men, when not in mining clothes, in dress shirts and loose-fitting dress pants.
Children were decked out in well-starched cotton with lace petticoats or short pants, and most everyone wore a bowler or some type of hat.
There was a Mrs. Tucker, who moved to Crudup in 1921 to serve as one of the school’s two teachers. She married Mr. O.L. Tucker who oversaw housing for the many mining families.
Her father-in-law, D.G. Tucker, served as president of Crudup Mining Company and also managed Crudup Commissary, a general merchandising store which was the hub of activity within the city.
Mrs. Tucker also worked in the Crudup Post Office and wrote of the mighty trains which once made stops in the city. She recalled the then progressive garbage pickup service, made possible by the use of a mule and cart and a little old man the children called “the ice cream man.”
She also wrote of the first automobiles which rolled into the city; big, black enclosed (as opposed to open-air models) Fords which sold for $750 and included all the extras. One extra, Mrs. Tucker remembered, was a vase-type attachment inside the vehicle where some women kept freshly-cut flowers.
Crudup was a pretty little city, just full of houses and people. There were all kinds of things to do for entertainment. Church services were held inside the little schoolhouse and everybody came.
Everyone was so active and happy, but that was all so long ago. It’s hard to believe that everything has changed so much now.
But change they have. The mines shut down sometime around the early part of World War I and have not reopened since. The miners and their children moved on to make a new life elsewhere.
Aside from the memories, about all that remains, is a few old broken down mining houses sitting beside a seldom-traveled highway.