Discover the Fascinating History of Red Level

Explore the captivating history of Red Level, a town nestled in northwestern Covington County, known for its profound historical significance.

Originating from the establishment of Reads Level, the town's name dates back to the 1840s and 1850s, marking the arrival of early settlers.

Red Level holds a storied past, with distinguished individuals such as the United States surgeon general, Luther Terry, and ventriloquist Willie Tyler, hailing from its midst.

The town's economy flourished with the advent of industries like cotton, cattle, timber, and tobacco, further propelled by the introduction of the Louisville-Nashville Railroad in 1898.

Boasting a diverse demographic and influential educational institutions, Red Level's narrative is shaped by its connectivity to major transport routes and proximity to natural landmarks like the Conecuh River and Gantt Lake.

Key Takeaways

  • Red Level was named after a store called Reads Level, owned by James Read.
  • The settlement experienced population growth in the early 1850s and was one of the largest in Covington County before the Civil War.
  • The primary economic drivers in Red Level were cotton, cattle, timber, and tobacco.
  • Red Level is located near the Conecuh River, Point A reservoir, and Gantt Lake, providing opportunities for boating and fishing.

Red Level's Geographic Location

Red Level is located in northwestern Covington County in the extreme south-central part of the state, characterized by a humid subtropical climate.

The town is surrounded by several notable towns, including Andalusia, Gantt, and River Falls.

Red Level's climate features hot, humid summers and mild winters, typical of the southeastern United States.

The surrounding towns contribute to the area's economic and cultural dynamics, with Andalusia being the largest nearby city and Gantt offering recreational opportunities at the nearby Gantt Lake.

River Falls provides access to outdoor activities along the Conecuh River and Point A reservoir.

These surrounding towns play a vital role in the interconnectedness and overall development of the region, offering a diverse array of resources and opportunities for the residents of Red Level.

Origin of Red Level's Name

The origin of Red Level's name can be traced back to the pronunciation of the store owner, James Read, who named his store Reads Level with a silent 'a'. This small change in pronunciation led to the town being named Red Level.

The etymology of 'Red Level' signifies the historical significance of the area's early settlement and its association with the store.

The name's unique origin has become an integral part of the town's identity, showcasing the influence of individuals in shaping local history.

Early Settlers and Notable Residents

How did the early settlers contribute to the development of Red Level, and who are some of the notable residents who have made an impact on the town's history and identity?

Red Level's early settlers played a pivotal role in shaping the town's history and development. Elkanah Briggs, who purchased the first land in the area in 1824, and the influx of settlers in the 1840s and 1850s contributed to the town's population growth and economic prosperity.

Notable residents who have left an indelible mark on Red Level include Luther Terry, who served as the surgeon general of the United States, and ventriloquist Willie Tyler. Their contributions have significantly impacted the town's identity and historical significance.

Through their achievements and influence, these notable residents have helped shape the unique character and heritage of Red Level, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.

Growth and Incorporation

During the late 19th century, Red Level experienced significant population growth and was formally incorporated in 1901. The incorporation marked a pivotal moment in the town's history, solidifying its status as a distinct and organized community. This period of growth and development was influenced by several key factors, including:

  • Red Level's population growth in the early 1850s
  • Impact of the Louisville Nashville Railroad on Red Level's economy
  • Expansion of economic activities such as cotton, cattle, timber, and tobacco
  • Establishment of essential infrastructure including the first drugstore and a local bank
  • Adapting to challenges such as the boll weevil's impact on the cotton industry

These elements collectively contributed to shaping Red Level's identity and laying the foundation for its future trajectory as a town with a rich historical and economic legacy.

Economic Drivers and Impact of the Railroad

The economic development of Red Level was significantly influenced by the introduction of the Louisville-Nashville Railroad, which brought about substantial growth and transformation in the town's industries and infrastructure. The railroad facilitated the expansion of the cotton industry, enabling easier transportation of cotton to markets and contributing to the town's economic prosperity. Additionally, the railroad's presence supported moonshine production, as it provided efficient means for transporting sugar and other supplies necessary for this clandestine industry. The impact of the railroad was profound, leading to increased employment opportunities, the establishment of new businesses, and the overall modernization of Red Level's economy. This transformative period saw the town evolve from primarily agricultural to a more diverse and industrially integrated community.

Economic Drivers Impact of the Railroad
Cotton industry Facilitated expansion
Moonshine production Enhanced transportation

Impact of the Boll Weevil

An infestation of boll weevils resulted in a significant decline in the local cotton industry, causing substantial economic repercussions for Red Level.

The effect on the cotton industry was devastating, leading to a dramatic decrease in cotton production.

Many farmers faced financial ruin as their main source of income dwindled.

The economic consequences were far-reaching, impacting not only farmers but also businesses that relied on the cotton industry.

The decline in cotton production led to a loss of jobs and a decrease in overall economic activity in the region.

Red Level's economy, heavily reliant on cotton, suffered a severe blow, prompting a shift towards diversification and the exploration of alternative industries.

Demographics and Education

With a population of 363 according to the 2020 Census, Red Level is home to a diverse community and a PreK-12 high school within the Covington County school system. The impact of the boll weevil infestation on the economy prompted a shift in focus towards diversifying industries and supporting educational development.

Red Level's population is predominantly white, with 85.4% identifying as such, while 7.7% identify as African American and 6.9% as two or more races. The town's median household income was reported at $43,295.

Red Level's education system consists of a single PreK-12 high school, part of the Covington County school system. As the town continues to grow and diversify, the educational institutions play a crucial role in serving the needs of the community and preparing students for the future.

Transportation Routes

Running through the northeastern quadrant of Red Level, State Highway 55 serves as a major transportation route for the town.

  • Transportation Infrastructure: State Highway 55 connects Red Level to other parts of Covington County and beyond, facilitating the movement of goods and people.
  • Historical Significance of Transportation: The presence of State Highway 55 has been crucial for the town's development, contributing to its accessibility and connectivity with neighboring communities.
  • County Highway 7/82: This intersecting highway further enhances the local transportation network, providing additional routes for commuters and commercial activities.
  • Three Notch Railroad: Operating a line from Georgiana to Andalusia, the railroad has historically played a pivotal role in transporting goods and passengers, impacting the town's economic growth.
  • Proximity to Water Bodies: Red Level's location near the Conecuh River, Point A reservoir, and Gantt Lake offers alternative transportation options and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

Proximity to Natural Attractions

Nestled near the Conecuh River, Point A reservoir, and Gantt Lake, Red Level offers proximity to diverse natural attractions.

The Conecuh River provides opportunities for recreation such as fishing, kayaking, and wildlife observation, drawing outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Point A reservoir, a 700-acre lake, is ideal for boating, water skiing, and picnicking, providing a serene escape from the bustle of everyday life.

Additionally, Gantt Lake, situated nearby, offers a wealth of activities including fishing, swimming, and camping, making it a popular destination for families and outdoor adventurers.

These natural attractions not only contribute to the town's scenic beauty but also enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors alike, showcasing the abundant recreational opportunities available in the picturesque surroundings of Red Level.

Modern-Day Red Level

Despite its rich historical past, Red Level has evolved into a modern town with a focus on community development and economic growth. The current state of Red Level includes:

  • Modern day businesses contributing to the local economy
  • Local festivals and events that promote community engagement
  • A growing emphasis on sustainable and environmentally friendly practices
  • Investment in infrastructure and public facilities to support the town's growth
  • Collaborative efforts between local government, businesses, and residents to enhance the overall quality of life in the town.

Red Level's transformation into a contemporary town reflects its ability to adapt to changing times while preserving its unique cultural heritage. The town's commitment to progress ensures a promising future for its residents and businesses alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Was the Significance of the Sugar Refinery Outside of Red Level and Its Connection to Moonshine Production?

The sugar refinery outside Red Level played a crucial role in local moonshine production, supporting the economy. However, the boll weevil's impact on cotton cultivation negatively affected the area's economic stability, leading to increased reliance on moonshine production.

How Did the Boll Weevil Impact the Local Economy in Red Level and What Were the Long-Term Effects?

The boll weevil devastated Red Level's economy, leading to a significant decline in cotton production. This forced diversification, resulting in the rise of moonshine production supported by a local sugar refinery, impacting the town's economic landscape for years to come.

What Are Some Notable Natural Attractions Near Red Level, Such as the Conecuh River and Gantt Lake?

The natural beauty surrounding Red Level includes the serene Conecuh River and the picturesque Gantt Lake, offering nature trails and wildlife preservation areas. These attractions provide residents and visitors with opportunities for outdoor recreation and appreciation of Alabama's diverse ecosystems.

How Has the Three Notch Railroad Influenced Transportation and Economic Development in Red Level?

The Three Notch Railroad has significantly influenced transportation and economic development in Red Level. It facilitated the movement of goods and people, leading to increased economic growth, enhanced connectivity, and access to markets, contributing to the town's prosperity.

What Are Some Unique Aspects of the Early Settlers and Notable Residents of Red Level, Such as the Birth of Surgeon General Luther Terry and Ventriloquist Willie Tyler?

The birthplaces of notable residents, such as Surgeon General Luther Terry and ventriloquist Willie Tyler, reflect Red Level's diverse history. Early settlers established a thriving community, with local industries including cotton, cattle, and a sugar refinery supporting moonshine production.


In conclusion, the history of Red Level is a testament to the town's resilience and adaptability. As the town continues to evolve, it remains rooted in its rich heritage and traditions.

The adage 'History repeats itself' reminds us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and future. Red Level's story serves as a compelling example of how history shapes and influences the trajectory of a community.

Our Reader’s Queries

How big is Red Level Alabama?

Geography. Red Level sits in the northwest corner of Covington County at 31°24?28?N 86°36?37?W. Per the U.S. Census Bureau, the town covers 1.9 square miles (5.0 km2), with just 0.004 square miles (0.01 km2), or 0.26%, being water.

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