The Effect Of The Iron Industry On Alabama’s Economy

1379 words - 6 pages

The boom of mining iron ore, coal, and limestone and producing iron in north Alabama during the 1800s had a tremendous impact on Alabama’s economy of the time. It provided opportunity for the expansion of the railroad and work. Cities were born around this industrial boom. All of these things encouraged economic growth in Alabama during this time.
Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900 states “it is a truism that the Civil War altered the economic life of the south” (Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900). Before the Civil War Alabama’s economy many depended on agriculture and a work force of slaves. A new south had been created that brought “free labor and greater diversification” (Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900). This is in part due to the boom in the iron industry. Mills and mines had existed before the war, although not as influential as they became after the war. Even though cotton was still the dominant export of Alabama, coal iron and steel were becoming an increasing source of income (Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900).
One of the reasons for this increase was the fact that three of the main ingredients used to make iron; coal, iron ore, and limestone, are found in abundance in north Alabama, according to a report made by John Gilmore, an experienced surveyor (Duncan). “This lucky geological arrangement resulted in the lowest raw-material assembly costs in the United States and allowed the district to grow as rapidly, in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, as Pittsburgh and Chicago” (Bergstresser).
Elyton land company, formed by a group of men from Montgomery, Alabama, sold lots in the middle of this area that had been found to be rich in these precious resources required to make iron (Duncan). This became the city of Birmingham, Alabama, which lies in the valley region of north Alabama at the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains (White). It was rightfully named after the great industrial city of England (Duncan). It is possible that they named the city this way to encourage the growth of industry in the area and grow is exactly what it did if you consider that there was no Birmingham at all in 1865 (Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900). From 1880 to 1890: population increased from 3,086 to 26,178 (Griffith, Alabama: A Documentary History to 1900). This rapid growth in population could be the reason why Birmingham earned its nickname “the Magic City”. This “lit a spark of much needed hope in the hearts of thousands” (Duncan). Birmingham with its industrial growth to this day is known around the world for claims like “the Magic City” and “greatest iron and steel manufacturing center south of Pittsburg” (Haagen). Poems have even been written about this great feat! “Birmingham! City of iron majesty, Spanning the rugged hills, Half-hidden by the trees til night, Then bursting into brilliant sight!” (Fundaburk).
“Birmingham's promise of abundant raw materials and...

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