Fun facts about Huntsville


  • Land in and around Big Spring was sold to Leroy Pope for $23.00 an acre.
  • Huntsville was called Twickenham before the people had it changed to Huntsville after the first settler John Hunt.
  • Harrison Brothers Hardware opened in 1879 as a Tobacco shop.
  • Hunstville’s Railroad Depot is one of America’s oldest.
  • Confederate soldiers were imprisoned at the Railroad Depot. Some of their graffiti can still be seen.
  • Pope Mansion was built on Huntsville’s highest hill in 1814.
  • Weeden House Museum is the oldest building in Alabama still open to the public.
  • Huntsville is home to the largest collection of pre-Civil War homes.
  • Huntsville hosted the first Constitutional Convention for the state of Alabama in 1819 where 44 delegates drafted the state’s first constitution.
  • Huntsville was the first capital of the state after being admitted to the union.
  • On April 11, 1862, Huntsville was seized by General Mitchell of the Union Army. It severed the Confederate Railroad communications. This seizure and subsequent surrender is why Huntsville still retains many of the Pre-Civil War buildings.
  • Huntsville was once known as the Watercress Capital of the world.
  • Huntsville’s early growth was due to the cotton industry.
  • Monte Sano State Park has over 2000 acres.
  • Huntsville is considered a part of the Cumberland Plateau.
  • Huntsville is built over a vast network of caves.
  • John Ditto established Ditto Landing, a trading post and ferry service in 1802.
  • 25th Alabama Battalion surrendered to Union troops on May 11, 1865 on their beloved Monte Sano Mountain.
  • Monte Sano saw the triumph of the New South in June 1887 when the 233 room, Queen Ann style Monte Sano Hotel opened.
  • Prominent personalities visiting the Monte Sano Hotel included William H. Vanderbilt, William Waldorf Astor, Walter Damrosch, Jay Gould, and Helen Keller.
  • Huntsville Bell Factory started in 1809 and functioned until 1885. Its 3000 spindles and 100 looms were powered by a water wheel.
  • Electric street cars appeared in Huntsville in 1901, replacing horse and wagons.
  • In 1941, Huntsville was chosen to play an important role in the war effort of the United States. A chemical warfare plant was established on Huntsville Arsenal. Redstone Ordinance Plant manufactured conventional artillery shells.
  • The Huntsville Arsenal and the Redstone Plant were built on 40,000 acres of cotton fields and swamps.
  • After the war in June of 1949, the Department of the Army closed down the Huntsville Arsenal and placed “For Sale” Signs on the property. It never sold.
  • The Army concentrated its missile program to the new Redstone Arsenal in November 1949.
  • Spring of 1950 brought Werner Von Braun and 118 scientists to Huntsville from Fort Bliss, Texas.
  • The Redstone Rocket, a surface to surface missile was developed here.
  • The German group helped organize St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
  • President John F. Kennedy visited Redstone Arsenal and Dr. Werner Von Braun.
  • U.S. Space and Rocket Center was established in 1970.
  • Maple Hill Cemetery was established in 1818 on 2 acres of land purchased by the city for $200.00 from Leroy Pope.
  • Maple Hill now covers almost 100 acres.
  • Maple Hill Cemetery is the oldest and largest cemetery in the state of Alabama.
  • There are between 80,000 and 100,000 people buried at Maple hill Cemetery.
  • All of the plots in Maple Hill Cemetery are sold.
  • Leroy Pope Walker was a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army that gave the order to fire: starting the Civil War.
  • Lily Flagg was a prize cow that took top honors in Chicago as world’s greatest butterfat producer.
  • Judge Paul Speake brought law and order to Madison County.
  • Clement Claiborne Clay was charged with complicity in the murder of President Lincoln and imprisoned with Jefferson Davis.
  • Alabama A & M was established on December 16, 1875.
  • In 1825, there were 308 males and 170 females living in Huntsville.
  • Huntsville was the epicenter of a earthquake in 1959 that spanned a 25 mile radius and caused minor damage.
  • Schools were established in Huntsville in 1812
  • John Hunt is considered the Founder of Huntsville Leroy Pope is considered the Father of Huntsville George Steele is considered the Builder of Huntsville
  • Oak Place on Maysville, George Steele’s home, was the site of the inaugural party for President James K. Polk
  • In 1940, Herbert Johnson working the radio booth of WBHP. heard planes buzzing overhead. Knowing it was dark outside and the lights were not on at the airport, he urged his listeners to rush to the airport and leave their car lights on. By doing this, it guided the planes to a safe landing. This earned him and WBPH an award citation from the U.S. War Department.
  • All 4 court houses of Madison County have been built on the same site.
  • Huntsville represented the Age of American Settlement
  • The land in and around Huntsville yielded 1000 pound of cotton per acre.
  • John Hunt was Scotch-Irish and immigrated to Pennsylvania and then moved south
  • Alex Haley, author of Roots, spent his early years in Normal when his father was an Agriculture Instructor at A & M.
  • Huntsville represented the age of American Settlement
  • Huntsville opposed secession from the Union hoping for a compromise.
  • Big Spring actually froze over in 1898
  • Frank James, brother of Jesse James, was tried at the Federal Court House in Huntsville for robbing an Army Corps of Engineers payroll. He was found not guilty.

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