Pickens County: a Southern Gem With Rich History

Nestled in the west-central region of Alabama, Pickens County exudes a compelling allure steeped in a profound historical legacy and cultural diversity. Established in 1820 and named after Gen. Andrew Pickens, the county has undergone significant territorial changes before attaining its present boundaries in 1866.

Boasting a population of approximately 19,123, with the notable urban centers of Aliceville and Carrollton, the county's economy has evolved from an agricultural base to encompass manufacturing and tourism.

Its landscape, characterized by sandy soils and the picturesque Tombigbee River, provides an idyllic backdrop for a multitude of activities and attractions, including the Aliceville Museum, annual festivals, and outdoor recreational pursuits.

With its captivating history, diverse demographics, and thriving economy, Pickens County stands as a veritable Southern gem awaiting exploration.

Key Takeaways

  • Pickens County, Alabama was founded in 1820 and was named after Gen. Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero.
  • The county has a diverse population, with a majority identifying as white and a significant African American minority.
  • The economy of Pickens County is based on agriculture, particularly cotton, soybeans, and peanuts, as well as forestry and manufacturing.
  • There are several notable attractions in Pickens County, including Aliceville Lake, the Tom Bevill Visitor Center, and the Aliceville Museum and Cultural Center.

Location and Founding

Where exactly is Pickens County located and when was it founded?

Pickens County, located in the west-central part of Alabama, was founded on December 20, 1820.

The area has a rich history, with Native American presence dating back to 1540. The county played a significant role in the Civil War, with its boundaries changing multiple times before being finalized in 1866. It was named after Gen. Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero, and has been influenced by early settlers from the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia.

The county's diverse population, with a significant minority of African Americans, reflects its historical and cultural heritage. Additionally, Pickens County's economy has evolved from its agricultural roots to include a growing manufacturing sector and a thriving tourism industry, making it a Southern gem with a compelling history.

Early Settlement and Boundaries

When early settlers arrived in Pickens County, its boundaries underwent multiple changes before being finalized in 1866. The area had a significant Native American presence dating back to 1540. As European settlers arrived, the boundaries of Pickens County were redrawn several times due to conflicts and treaties with Native American tribes. Additionally, Pickens County played a role in the Civil War, experiencing various wartime activities and strategic movements due to its location. The county's involvement in the Civil War also contributed to the changes in its boundaries. These historical events have left a lasting impact on the county's development and cultural heritage.

Early Settlement and Boundaries
Native American Presence Civil War Involvement Finalization of Boundaries

This table represents the complex historical factors that influenced the early settlement and establishment of boundaries in Pickens County.

Demographics and Population Centers

The diverse population and major population centers in Pickens County reflect its rich history and cultural heritage.

The county's population is approximately 19,123, with the largest city being Aliceville, boasting a population of 2,199, and Carrollton serving as the county seat with a population of 1,158. Other significant population centers include Reform, Gordo, Memphis, McMullen, and Pickensville.

Pickens County exhibits ethnic diversity, with 57.7% identifying as white and 40.1% as African American. While the majority of residents are white, African Americans make up a significant minority.

The median household income in the county is $35,000, and the high school graduation rate stands at 80%.

This population distribution and ethnic diversity highlight the county's unique cultural tapestry.

Economic Activities and Industries

Pickens County sustains a diverse economy with agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and tourism as major industries.

Its agricultural heritage, once centered around cotton, corn, and soybeans, now includes significant poultry and swine farming.

The forestry industry, dating back to the late 19th century, remains robust, with lumber mills providing steady employment.

Moreover, recent years have seen notable economic growth in the manufacturing sector. This expansion has led to increased employment opportunities and economic prosperity.

Additionally, tourism plays a vital role in the local economy, attracting visitors to recreational activities at places like Aliceville Lake and historical sites such as the Aliceville Museum and Cultural Center.

With an unemployment rate of 5%, Pickens County displays a promising economic outlook, built upon its rich history and diverse industries.

Geographic Features and Terrain

Nestled within the picturesque landscape of west-central Alabama, Pickens County is characterized by diverse geographic features and terrain, reflecting the county's rich history and natural beauty. The county covers an area of 890 square miles and is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic section. Its terrain consists mostly of sandy soils and rolling uplands with pine and oak forests. The Tombigbee River and its tributaries flow through the county, offering diverse wildlife and natural landscapes. The county borders the state of Mississippi and features the prominent Chattahoochee National Forest. Below is a table highlighting some of the key geographic features and terrain of Pickens County:

Geographic Features Terrain
Tombigbee River Sandy soils
Chattahoochee National Forest Rolling uplands
Diverse wildlife Pine and oak forests

The natural landscapes in Pickens County provide a scenic backdrop to its rich history and cultural heritage.

Waterways and Natural Landscapes

Situated within the picturesque landscape of west-central Alabama, Pickens County is characterized by a network of waterways and diverse natural landscapes that contribute to its rich history and scenic beauty.

The Tombigbee River and its tributaries flow through the county, offering opportunities for water sports such as boating and fishing. The county's terrain consists of sandy soils, rolling uplands, and pine and oak forests, providing a habitat for diverse wildlife. These natural landscapes also play a significant role in wildlife conservation efforts, preserving the region's ecological balance.

Aliceville Lake, also known as Pickensville Lake, is a focal point for outdoor recreational activities, including camping and boating. The county's commitment to preserving its natural beauty and wildlife underscores its appeal to outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Recreational Activities and Landmarks

Amid the picturesque landscape of west-central Alabama, recreational activities and landmarks in Pickens County offer diverse opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and cultural exploration.

  • Aliceville Lake: Also known as Pickensville Lake, it provides various recreational activities such as camping, boating, and fishing.
  • Tom Bevill Visitor Center: Located near Pickensville, it offers information about the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and houses the U.S. Snagboat Montgomery.
  • Annual Festivals: Pickens County hosts events like the Willie King Freedom Creek Festival and the Dogwood Festival in Aliceville, celebrating local traditions.
  • Historic Sites: Landmarks include the Carrollton Courthouse and Gordo Theater, providing insights into the area's rich cultural heritage and history.

Annual Festivals and Cultural Heritage

Celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Pickens County, annual festivals play a significant role in showcasing local traditions and community spirit. These cultural celebrations are deeply rooted in the county's history, offering a vibrant display of traditional music performances, arts and crafts, and culinary delights.

The Willie King Freedom Creek Festival and the Dogwood Festival in Aliceville are prominent events that bring together locals and visitors to honor the region's heritage. Additionally, the Mule Day/Chickenfest in Gordo, featuring a lively parade and entertainment, is a testament to the county's enduring cultural legacy.

These annual festivals not only provide a platform for showcasing the rich traditions of Pickens County but also serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people.

Historic Sites and Landmarks

Preserving the county's rich history, exploring historic sites and landmarks offers insight into Pickens County's cultural heritage.

  • The Carrollton Courthouse, built in 1877, is a notable historic site and an excellent example of Second Empire architecture.
  • Gordo Theater, established in 1925, stands as a testament to the county's entertainment history and architectural legacy.
  • The Pickens County Courthouse, constructed in 1877, is an iconic landmark and a significant symbol of the county's heritage.
  • The J.P. Hinton House, a historic home dating back to the late 1800s, showcases the elegant architecture and lifestyle of the era.

These landmarks and historic sites not only provide a glimpse into Pickens County's past but also serve as vital links to understanding the cultural, architectural, and social development of the region.

Local Cuisine and Southern Specialties

Local cuisine in Pickens County, with its strong Southern influences, showcases a diverse array of traditional Southern specialties. The southern food traditions in the county draw from a rich culinary heritage, integrating influences from African, European, and Native American cultures. Dishes such as fried chicken, cornbread, collard greens, and black-eyed peas are emblematic of the region's culinary influences.

Additionally, Pickens County is renowned for its delectable barbecue, featuring slow-cooked meats paired with tangy, flavorful sauces. The county's cuisine reflects the use of locally sourced ingredients and a deep-rooted connection to the land.

Furthermore, the community's commitment to preserving and celebrating its culinary traditions is evident in the numerous local eateries that continue to honor and serve these beloved Southern specialties.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Top 3 Industries Contributing to the Economy of Pickens County?

The top three industries contributing to the economy of Pickens County are agriculture, particularly cotton, soybeans, and peanuts production, forestry with lumber mills providing employment, and the growing manufacturing sector. These industries foster economic development and job opportunities in the county.

What Are the Major Crops Grown in Pickens County?

What major crops are grown in Pickens County? The agricultural economy thrives on cotton, soybeans, and peanuts. Traditional farming practices and rich soil contribute to the county's farm produce, supporting a vital aspect of its economy.

What Are the Main Recreational Activities Available at Aliceville Lake?

At Aliceville Lake, visitors can engage in a variety of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. The serene waters offer opportunities for boating and fishing, while the surrounding area provides trails and camping facilities for outdoor enthusiasts.

What Historic Sites Can Be Found in Pickens County?

Pickens County boasts historic landmarks of architectural significance, including the Carrollton Courthouse and Gordo Theater. Preservation efforts highlight their historical significance, preserving the county's rich heritage. Notably, these sites contribute to the area's cultural and historical appeal.

What Are Some of the Popular Southern Specialties in the Local Cuisine of Pickens County?

Some popular Southern specialties in Pickens County's local cuisine include classic comfort foods like fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and pecan pie. Local barbecue joints are also cherished for their slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork, and smoked brisket.


In conclusion, Pickens County in Alabama stands as a multifaceted jewel with a rich history and diverse cultural heritage. Like a tapestry woven with threads of tradition and progress, the county's economy has evolved from its farming roots to include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.

Its geography, with sandy soils and the scenic Tombigbee River, adds layers of natural beauty to the region. Pickens County is a Southern gem waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

Our Reader’s Queries

What are the demographics of Pickens County Alabama?

In 2021, Pickens County, AL had 1.35 times more White (Non-Hispanic) residents, totaling 10.3k people, compared to other racial or ethnic groups. The second and third most common ethnic groups were 7.6k Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) residents and 698 White (Hispanic) residents.

What is the history of Pickens County Alabama?

The Pickens County Courthouse was established by the Alabama legislature on December 20, 1820. This county was carved out of Tuscaloosa County in 1818 from land obtained through negotiations with the Cherokees and Choctaws.

What county is Carrollton Alabama in?

Carrollton, located in Pickens County, Alabama, is home to 1,023 people as of the 2020 US Census.

Who is the sheriff of Pickens County Alabama?

Sheriff Jordan Powell featured in the Pickens County Herald.

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