Sidetracked in Opelika

I went out with the intention of photographing the spring flowers and trees that are starting to blossom. I drove around town, and ended up in the historic district of Opelika. Looking around, it’s hard to miss  railroad tracks as there is still a strong railroad presence in Opelika.

A little history about the railroad in Opelika:
In 1848, the Montgomery & West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama to Opelika, and in 1851 completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard, and rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery & West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.

To manage this rapid growth, Opelika was incorporated as a town on February 9, 1854. As a result of Opelika’s transportation infrastructure, many warehouses for storing cotton and other goods were built. With the onset of the Civil War these warehouses were converted to Confederate supply depots. In 1864 and 1865, Union raids commanded by Lovell Rousseau and James H. Wilson attacked Opelika, tearing up the railroads and destroying all government property, including Opelika’s warehouses.

Today, the railroad is still using the rails that were once the reason for the existence of this town. Perhaps not as much as in the early days, but the train whistle still blows in Opelika.

As to my photography intentions, I found out being sidetracked isn’t all bad 🙂

This entry was published on February 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm. It’s filed under Alabama, civil war, Photography, railroad, southern living and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Sidetracked in Opelika

  1. Nice..I particularly like the yellow chain shot

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