|← The Cahaba Project||Management of the Cahaba Project →|
Since history began, North America was inhibited by the Native americans whose main economic acitivies included fishing and hunting and they relied heavily on this for food and exchanged them for other goods and services in their neighborhood. The land was mainly forested and wild animlas lived in the countryside as the human habitants occupied the low lands near the banks of Cahaba where most of the fishing activities took place. The area was exceptional beautiful with unique features that could only be found here. Industrialisation had not begun and everything was as natural as it was since there was minimal disturbance. Fish resources in the rivers were plenty and the adjucent forests were very green and favored the breeding of wild animals. Shelters were temporary and the level of education was still very low since the area had not been fully established. With time, white man gradually migrated and settled in the area and the population not only increased in size but became diverse as well. Though they did not mingle in all life aspects, they both enjoyed the beauty that nature had provided. However, this first group to migrate did not temper much with the natural look of the area. Their main purpose was to tour the land and live with the Native Americans as they learn different cultural practices. In the meanwhile, their influx was minimal as though it was controlled.
It was until in 1814, when the Creek land surrendered to the American governance when life in Cahaba took a new turn. White settlers came in large groups and year after year, their numbers increased through birth and more immigration. Alabama now became a home for many partly due to its stupendous beauty and partly due the fact that the whites had the freedom after they had conquered creek land. Settlers came in with different ideas, both constructive and destructive. The contructive ideas were that they thought it was wise for them to start building homes and recreation centers but this turn to be destructive in that they only could build their homes in the by the rivers and the forests thus destroying the natural ecosystem which was a habitat for many animals and birds. The rivers became less economical for fishing since the banks were now used as play grounds for children. Waters started to regress with more tree cutting as more settlers were looking for places to contruct their homes.
Most of the land was not owned by private owners since it was still considered a communial property. This therefore gave the whites a chance to acquire more and more land on the basis of first come first serve. Wealth did not matter since even the poor could still acquire more land as long they were determined to. By 1820s, most of the land had gone to private settlers most of whom the whites. Among these settlers was a north carolinian who was famously known for his passion for development and was determined to make life enjoyable and bearable for most of the people, both immigrants and the locals. His name was Warren Truss. Warren had settled in the area way back before 1820, and by this time, he had acquired a good enough land to the tune of a thousand acres of land. On this land, he built a mill on the cabana that served the people. Warren became even more famous and people started naming the nearby settlement after his name thus giving it the name “Truss”.
For several decades, Cahaba, now under the new name “Trussville”, remained to be a rural area with spacely populated homesteads and wide pieces of land separating them. Isolated from the other communities, trussville settlers continued to rely on farming as the key occupation and the only means to earn a living. Farm products were sold to the nearby settlements or exchanged for other goods and services. Remaining farm products such as grains were stored in a confederate storehouse so as to be used during dry seasons or as they await for shipment to other areas. Economy of this community had stabalized since the fishing industry and the mills created job opportunities for the locals. However, the economy was almost disstabilized after the civil war. Trussville was hit by another destructive incident during the civil. This incident was meantto leave the area economically depressed. Even though the war was not experienced directly at the beginning, John Croxton, who was then the general of the union, led a marauding party in 1865 to Trussville and towards the end of the war; the confederate storehouse was burnt down. Even though this team succeeded in their attempt to reduce this building into ashes, the residents of Trussville came together and successfully put the fire out and rescued much of the flour and grains that had been stored in the storehouse.
Despite the fact that white settlers had occupied most parts of the area, Trussville remained relatively behand in terms of education. Formal education was comparatively slow in coming to Trussville, even though the rate of leteracy was far much above avarage in 1860 in most parts of Cahaba particularly in central Alabama. It was not until in 1869 when extra effort wasput so as to ensure that education was not only available but accessible to the Trussville residents. To begin with, the first academy was founded by professor Hewitt, R. in 1869. Trussville as it was called was constructed with logs and it housed approximately one hundred students. This was very helpful to this community and professor Hewitt’s name was all over for the lasting impression he made on this society. After this school had fully been established, many more schools were built including middle schools and high schools. To date, the middle and high schools are still known by his name.
Prior to the civil war, the land was still very remote and infrastructure had not fully developed. Accessibility was still a problem thus making industrialisation difficult. However, after the civil war, railroad services were introduced into the area hence bringing about industrial development towards the end of 1880s. By the end of the nineteenth century and early twenty-first century, industrialization had fully reached Trussville and was practiced to the maximum. Several production and service industries went up so as to boost the economy of this community. Among these industries was the furnace that produced pig iron. Pig iron production was very successful in the area although it was operated under a variety of ownerships.
A time now came when the residents of Trussville desired development so as to be sure that there was some bit of progress in their land. Residents formed a group that was mandated to check and assess the progress of that community. Their main aim was to ensure that Trussville have grown into a prosperous city with a new look since their dream was to see it become a flourishing new city. Therefore, this mandated group of local inhabitants successfully organized a project that was commonly known as the Trussville and Cahaba river Land Company.This was anticipated to boost the economy; however, the projected boom did not occur along the Cahaba. To their astonishment, the place that flourished as a result of the Trussville and Cahaba River Land Company Project was birmingham instead. This city benefited much from the iron and steel industry established and managed by the local residents.
As it is the trend for most economies, economic depressions are experienced in majority of economies and the Trussville economy was not an exception. Ecnomic depression befell the Trussville community and there was the urgency for recovery. Following this, a recovery program was put in place by the government in order to come up with projects that would boost the economy. One of the suggested programs was to cut down rent so as to make housing affordable to the low income residents. As a result, there was the need to assign land that was suitablle for part time farms and low rent houses. Several locations were suggested and among those that would be used for this program was the Trussville area. Nevertheless, after further investigation, it was realized that some part of the land, approximately 615 acres, on the slag heap village were not suitable for farming instead t could better fit for suburban housing. Propelled by the idea of the then project manager, Kestler, H., the Cahaba Project kicked up and was officially launched in April 1938.
The cahaba project was here after its launch in 1938. Plans were underway and excellent preparations were made in order to ensure that the project does not fail but yeild as it was expected. Homes were firmly built with inside plumbing, electricity, running water and amenities. Such arrangements were very rare during that time particularly in most parts of Alabama. Residents were used into living in poor housing and water and electricity networks were not fully developed. Only those that lived in the neighborhood of the industrial areas and some few parts where railroad had passed through.
The Cahaba Project had a total of 287 residential houses which included apartments, single family homes and duplexes. Alongside these residential units were a cooperative storehouse and a high school. The area was also interspersed with sidewalks, shopping malls, car parks and paved streets. Things changed completely; from a semi rural area with no electricity or runnning water to a paradise with plenty of those things that were rarely found yet very precious and necessary to the residents. The area became a small town and life changed totally to both young and old residents.
Children in Trussville enjoyed an unsophisticated, small towm life in the 1950s; they amused themselves by walking along the streets, playing on the malls as well as swimming in the Cahaba. Also as mentioned above, among the public amenities was a library that was situated in the commissary where students and adults had some quiet time reading or meditating upon their work as they seeked career development. During that time, cars were rare commodities in Trussville and most families had hardly any car with only a few having only one car. However, accessibility to the area was made possible by a bus that went to Birmingham every morning and came back in the afternoon every day. A peculiar charm of the project is the awning of the splendid trees that lines the Chalkville Road and the adjacent trees. Most of these trees were planted in the 1930s and 1940s. Nevertheless, the project was initially devoid of gardens and trees since the area had been a farmland before it was acquired by the government. Just like many other up to date subdivisions, the Cahaba Project had its own unique entrances. Among these entrances is the gazebo, which is located at the corner of Parkway Drive and the Main Street.
Still fired by the government’s vision to recover from economy depression, the Trussville was integrated on June 1947, therefore absorbing both the Old Trussville and the Cahaba Village. In early 1948, the government declared all the parks a property of the town. Trussville’s growth in the 1950s was relatively quietly and comparatively slow. A suburban life spread out and at the end of the day, competition for good houses was high. The population was higher as compaired to the facilities available. The need for more housing therefore created more development and town growth in during the 1960’s and 1970s. Specifically, suburban life spread out and the conclusion of the 1-59 motivated more growth. Nevertheless, Trussville and its beauty remained a well kept furtive. The city grew in all corners particularly during the frenzied perriod.
The frenzied period began when numerous annexing was happening in Birmingham. Burmingham tried to annex the Hewitt-Trussville high school, which by that time it was hardly one year old. Propelled by this move, the then major of the Trussville town, Charles Grover, together with the other city council members declared their plan and strategies of annexation. Throughout that year, the city council members held several meetings almost weekly so as to see into it that nothing was going a mess. Their target was to ensure that by the end of that year Trussville would have acquired enough land so as to smoothly run its activities. Numerous captures continued until 1987 and by the time this period was over, Trussville had acquired more than three times its original land. Its population had also doubled. Now with a large land mass, Trussville’s dream to grow and expand its wings flourished. Since that time on, things have not changed much. The population has continued to grow with higher rates; for instance, the 1980 census confirmed that there were three thousand five hundred residents. By 2000, this number had shot to approximately twelve thousand five hundred. At the same time, population growth has continued with this rate and it is anticipated to continue at a fast clip.
This population growth rate is a clear sign that many people are attracted to the area. With good middle and high schools, coupled by a friendly atmosphere and an environment that is safe, Trussville has drawn the attention of many. Both young and middle-income earners have a good place to live in. Most of the families that migrate to live in Trussville have moved in to older houses in the Cahaba Project thus remodeling and upgrading them. Several subdivisions and inhabited areas have gradually sprung up within the neighborhood of the Trussville city. The city is now stretched from 1-459 on the south, and extended northwards to the Jefferson region line on the north. The project has also taken in a considerable area west of the 1-59 region. So as to meet the necessities of the growth of Trussville, several public and private amenities have sprung up. For instance, beautiful restraurants, retail shops, shopping malls and service industries have been established. The most outstanding of these are the two main shopping centers that were built in 2000. These two have made life even easier since residents do not need to travel longer distances compared to the past years. A youth sports center was built on a 120-acre land. This comlex has unique facilities and can accommodate as many people as possible. Most of the youths’ activities taking place in Cahaba are organized and hosted in this center.
Along side these amenities is the public library that saw its expansion in 1997 and has served the populace all those years. An activity center for senoir citizens was also opened in 1999 thus enabling older people and young adults to carry out social activities including procreation and social networking. These facilities have made the area more attractive as the mayor of the city puts it. The small town atmosphere is also another thing that attracts people to this area. With its precedent motto “the gateway to a happy living”, Trussville has maintained this and both new and old residents have proved the motto’s viability.