The Vagabond – A New York booklet on Gadsden in 1889


By Danny Crownover

Included at the Gadsden Public Library is a booklet about Gadsden that was printed in New York City in October of 1889 for the Gadsden Land & Improvement Company.

The booklet was intended to be a “handbook of useful information for settlers and investors, with a description of the city of Gadsden, with its industries and resources.”

The cover page featured lithographs of both the old Gadsden Iron Furnace and the steamboat landing on the Coosa River at the east end of Broad Street.

The booklet also contained maps of the mineral district of North Alabama and the railroads and river connections on the Tennessee and Coosa rivers.

Pictures in the booklet included the L&N Railroad bridge across the Coosa River (which at that time carried vehicular traffic), the Elliott Car Works, the Kyle Lumber Mills, the Printup Hotel and Noccalula Falls.

In addition, the booklet contained a well-written account of the location of Gadsden along with the city’s rail transportation facilities, agricultural advantages and climate.

Gadsden had seven sawmills, including the Kyle Lumber Mills, the Gadsden Lumber Company, Herzberg & Pogue and the Christopher Lumber Company plants.

W.S. Standifer owned and operated a large planning mill and sash, door, blind and molding plant.

The booklet also mentioned a large furniture plant in Alabama City and several metallic paint mills in Gadsden. Two potteries, an ice factory and an electric lighting plant were also among the assets of the city, as well as a pair of steam brick yards.

Local hotels included the Exchange at the northwest corner of Fourth and Locust streets, the Printup at the southeast corner of Locust and Fourth streets and the Johnson House at the southwest corner of Broad and Third streets.

A picture of the Printup was accompanied by a description noting that the hotel was of oriental design.

The Printup had an open court from the ground floor to the roof, with every room being an outside one. Since that time, the hotel has had fires and been remodeled and looks little like the original structure.

The booklet mentioned that that the water works had five miles of mains and that the Kyle Opera House was fitted with fine scenery furnished by Sosman & Landis of Chicago. Two large warehouses were capable of storing 15,000 bales of cotton.

“What is wanted,” the booklet said, “Is skilled mechanics and capital to put up cotton and woolen mills, wood working establishments, as well as small industries to work up pig iron.”

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