By Danny Crownover
This article was taken out of an old book called Northern Alabama, 1888. In it is much about Gadsden and Etowah County. Let’s continue our story for the week.
“Gadsden is situated on a large plateau, 700 feet above the level of the sea, about fifty feet above the highest water, with sufficient inclination toward the river to give it the finest natural drainage possible.
“North and west of it is Lookout Mountains, which furnish the most delightful sites for residences, and all within easy reach of the present business part of the city.
“On the east side of the city flows the beautiful Coosa. There is not a more important stream in the State than this river. It passes right through the center of the great mineral region of the State, and empties its waters into the Gulf of Mexico through Mobile Bay. “This river supplies the city of Gadsden with the finest water, while it affords the opportunity for the cheapest, as well as the finest sewage system in the world.
“Northeast of the city about three miles, there is a rapid mountain stream, which over leaps a large rock bluff, descending one hundred feet below into a mountain gorge, forming one of the most picturesque scenes to be found on the American Continent. These falls are known as “Nochalula,” or Black Creek Falls. They will be described hereafter.
“While Gadsden’s future will, in a great measure, be directed to development of the mineral wealth all round her door, she is not dependent upon it for her prosperity. At a convenient distance up and down the Coosa River are vast forests of long-leaf yellow pine, which excels all other wood in the production of fine lumber. This is now a very lucrative industry in Gadsden. For fifteen years it has been the principal industry of the city, and Gadsden is now manufacturing lumber at the rate of twenty millions of feet annually.
“The lumber interest is at present represented by the Kyle Lumber Company, the Gadsden Lumber Company, and the Red Jack Company. These establishments, as before said, have an annual capacity of twenty million feet. These mills have attached to each of them large dry kilns and planning mills. So superior is the lumber manufactured in Gadsden that nine-tenths of the products of these mills have been marketed north of the Ohio River, and some of it going even to Canada.
“The Elliott Car Works have started under as favorable auspices as any similar enterprise in the South. They have four immense buildings, 50×200 feet each, and when in operation can turn out twelve cars per day. The works now employ about four hundred hands, and will doubtless be enlarged. The advantages enjoyed by this company are superior. The Kyle Lumber Company has contracted to furnish all the lumber required, both of yellow pine and oak, necessary for the construction of cars, while the Round Mountain Charcoal Blast Furnace has contracted to furnish the iron for car-wheels.
“Capt. J. M. Elliott, who is president of the car works, has also the management of the furnace, which is just above Gadsden, on the Coosa River. This furnace turns out a cold-blast charcoal iron equal to any on the continent, and the Elliott Car Company has made fair terms with this furnace for the iron to be used in the construction of its cars.
All the wood and iron necessary for the construction of cars are manufactured and produced right here, and with no expense for freight. Gadsden has two iron furnaces, which perhaps it would be better to describe separately.
“The first, known as the Gadsden Iron Company’s, is a large charcoal furnace, with a capacity of sixty tons per day. The iron made by this furnace is of the finest quality, and is made of the red fossiliferous ores, which are mined within one mile of the furnace.
“This ore is worked direct from the mines without roasting, and contains sufficient limestone to render it self-fluxing. The charcoal for this furnace is obtained from extensive forests up and down the Coosa, and the wood is brought to the ovens in barges. These forests will supply charcoal enough for several furnaces for an indefinite time.
“The second furnace owned by the Gadsden Furnace Company is one of the largest coke furnaces in the South, and will have a capacity of 120 tons per day. The furnace will go into blast about April 1, 1888. This furnace company owns thirteen miles of the finest soft red ores in Alabama. The furnace plant is located on the Coosa River, and immediately on the line of the Rome & Decatur Railroad, one mile northeast of the city of Gadsden.
Gadsden Land and Improvement Company
“This company was organized a year ago, and owns some of the finest property in and around the city of Gadsden. It has 700 acres of land, much of which is beautifully situated for the extension of the city. It also owns a large tract of land on the Highlands, immediately north of the city, and near to Nochalula Falls, which furnishes some of the most picturesque scenery to be found anywhere. These Highlands are very valuable for residences, as they command a magnificent view, stretching southward for a number of miles, and taking in the whole city of Gadsden.
“Just north of the city, on the Rome & Decatur Railroad, is located a $12,000 plant, in the shape of a paint-mill. This mill is newly built, with the finest and most approved machinery for making metallic paint. The capacity of the mill is twelve tons per day.
“One of the oldest as well as one of the best paying institutions of Gadsden is the iron foundry. In it all iron and brass castings are made, and everything made of iron, from an engine to the smallest castings.
“Besides the industries already named, we mention a machine shop, two sash, door and blind factories, and a large cotton warehouse.
“In addition to these, we have one National Bank, good schools, churches of all denominations, and a fine system of water works.
“Gadsden has lodges in fine working order of the following secret organizations:
The Masons, including Blue Lodge, Royal Arch Chapter, and Commandery. Also an Odd Fellows lodge, a lodge of Knights of Pythias, one of the Knights of Honor. Also a Knights of Labor lodge. There is a Masonic lodge for the black persons, in addition to the above mentioned lodges.
“The streets of Gadsden are beautifully lighted with electricity, and nearly all the business houses are using the incandescent lights. The churches are lighted also with them.
“One of the finest opera houses of the state is to be found in the city. Its recent furniture is all of the most approved style. It has a seating capacity of 800.
“A year ago a stock company was organized with a cash capital of $15,000, for the purpose of building an ice factory. About the 1st of July everything was completed, and the city of Gadsden was using ice made in her own limits. The factory is complete in every particular, and works most admirably. Its capacity is twelve tons per day.
“Gadsden has three hotels, the Exchange, the Johnson House and the Printup. The Printup, which is just now nearing completion, is a gem of beauty and architectural skill. It is made of stone and brick, four stories besides a basement, and is conceded to be one of the finest hotels in the South.
“There is a flourishing Young Men’s Christian Association in the city. It has a hall open day and night to receive visitors and strangers.
“Without mentioning any of the projected railroads which will be built to Gadsden in the near future, we name the following railroads which are now running trains in and through Gadsden.
“The Tennessee & Coosa Railroad, which is intended to connect the two rivers from which it gets its name. It is completed from Gadsden to a point beyond Attalla, a distance of about ten miles.
“The Anniston & Cincinnati Railroad is nearing completion, and will soon run through trains between the points which give the name.
“The Rome & Decatur Railroad is running its trains through the city, but in a short time will have the road completed from Rome, Ga., to Decatur, on the Tennessee River.
“At the foot of Locust Street is the bridge of the Anniston & Cincinnati Railroad. This bridge is a magnificent iron structure, so arranged as to allow wagons and passengers to cross on it. It is a free bridge, and furnishes a thoroughfare to and from Gadsden for the eastern portions of the county.”