CAHAWBA, Dallas Co., 





Gary B. Speck




Located at the end of State Highway (SH) 9, 3.5 miles southeast of a point nine miles southwest of Selma on SH 22.


When Alabama was established as a state in 1819, the search for an ideal location to establish a capital city lead to the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama rivers.  The centerpiece of the new city was the two story capital building, which opened in 1820.  That year saw a bank, churches, hotels, two newspapers, school, and at least one tavern.  Cahawba also served as the county seat.  As the town continued to build, a flood in April of 1825 nearly washed it away. 


A listing of the various sessions of the state legislature that convened in Cahawba include:


·        1819              

o   October 25 - December 17      Huntsville

·        1820             

o   November 6 - December 21    Cahawba

·        Special called session 1821  

o   June 4-18                                Cahawba

·        1821              

o   November 5 - December 19          Cahawba

·        1822-23        

o   November 18 - January 1               Cahawba

·        1823              

o   November 17 - December 31        Cahawba

·        1824              

o   November 15 - December 25        Cahawba

·        1825-26        

o    November 21 - January 14            Cahawba

·        1826-27         

o   November 20 - January 13            Tuscaloosa


Realizing that the site was susceptible to flooding, the state legislature voted to move the capital, and in 1826 it was relocated to Tuscaloosa.  Despite the flood, the town's citizens began to rebuild the former capital city.  They felt it still had a promising future as a major river port on the Alabama.  The town soon had several thousand people.  In 1833 another flood heavily damaged the town, but again the citizens bounced back and rebuilt better than ever, and by 1850, 5000 people lived there. 


In 1864, a 2000-man prisoner of war camp was located here.  Neither Cahawba nor the P.O.W. camp lasted much longer as Union troops routed protecting Confederate troops, and Cahawba's townsfolk buried their wealth, shuttered their windows and waited for the human storm to approach.  They watched nearby Selma get reduced to a smoking ember, but before Union troops could arrive in Cahawba, a third flood destroyed the city.


That was it. 


The citizens packed up and left, abandoning the town.  The county seat was transferred to Selma, and Cahawba was a memory.  


Today it is a rubbled site, and part of a state-owned Archeological Interpretive Park.


This was our Ghost Town of the Month for February 2005.


This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

This historic site also has its own website at: Old




·        SW¼ Sec 32, T16N, R10E, St. Stephens Meridian

·        Latitude: 32.3168056 / 32° 19’ 01” N

·        Longitude: -87.1013793 / 87° 06’ 05” W



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FIRST POSTED:  February 03, 2005

LAST UPDATED: January 01, 2013




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