· Founding Date: January 9, 1836
· Area: 553 square miles
· Population: 25,989 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Coosa River, Little River, Weiss Lake
· Major Highways: U.S. 411, U.S. 278
· County Seat: Centre
· Largest City: Centre
Cherokee County was created by an act of the state legislature on January 9, 1836, and was named for the Cherokee Indians who controlled the territory until the early nineteenth century. The famous Cherokee chief Pathkiller, who led the Cherokee in the Creek War of 1813-14, lived in Turkeytown, near the present-day town of Centre. The Cherokee ceded the land that is now Cherokee County in the Treaty of New Echota in 1835. In 1836, newly arrived settlers founded the town of Cedar Bluff, which became the county seat, but in 1844 the county seat was moved to the more centrally located town of Centre. During the Civil War, Cherokee County provided 15 companies of infantry and two cavalry units to the Confederate Army. The Nineteenth Alabama Calvary was composed almost entirely of Cherokee County volunteers who fought under General Joe Wheeler. The area became a major supplier of iron ore to the Confederacy during the war. Stroup Furnace at Round Mountain and Rock Run Furnace near Bluffton were both destroyed by the Union Army but were reopened after the war. In 1862, Cornwall Furnace was built near the town of Cedar Bluff. Constructed of limestone from the nearby Coosa River, the 35-foot-high furnace was the first such facility to supply iron for the casting of Confederate cannons during the Civil War. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman twice ordered the furnace destroyed in 1864, but it still stands in its original location. Ironically, the general founded Tecumseh Furnace in the area after the war's end.
Cherokee's economy was largely agricultural throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Farmers grew cotton, corn, and wheat and raised livestock. The county also possessed extensive iron ore deposits, which made it a major supplier to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Following the war, the economy focused largely on farming, small-scale iron ore production, and timber.
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.9 percent)
· Retail trade (10.0 percent)
· Construction (8.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (6.8 percent)
· Public administration (5.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (4.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.9 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services (2.3 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.2 percent)
· Information (1.4 percent)
Comprising approximately 553 square miles, Cherokee County lies in the northeastern area of the state. The majority of the county lies within the Valley and Ridge physiographic section, but the northeastern and northwestern corners lie within the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section. It is bounded to the north by Dekalb County, to the west by Etowah County, to the south by Calhoun and Cleburne counties, and the to the east by Floyd, Chattooga, and Polk counties in Georgia. The Coosa River runs through the southwestern corner of the county, and its tributaries, Little River and Terrapin Creek, intersect the area. In the 1960s, the Coosa River was dammed to create Weiss Lake, a 30,000-acre reservoir that stretches across the center of the county. The county's major transportation route is U.S. Highway 411, which runs east-west south of Weiss Lake. Other important routes include State Highways 9, 68, and 35. Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport provides service for general aviation. Norfolk Southern Railroad operates the rail lines in the county.
Events and Places of Interest
Weiss Lake, with over 450 miles of shoreline, is known as the Crappie Capital of the World and hosts local, state, and national fishing tournaments. The Little River Canyon, one of the most extensive canyon and gorge systems in the country, is distinguished by towering cliffs, rushing Class V water, and scenic waterfalls. In 1992, Congress designated Little River Canyon a National Preserve, thus making it one of the cleanest rivers in the Southeast. The Little River also includes extensive fish populations, such as rainbow trout, redeye bass, catfish, and bream. In the southern part of the county, a small portion of the Talladega National Forest offers access to hiking and camping. Cherokee Rock Village (also known as Sand Rock) is a maze of sandstone rock outcroppings, boulders, and chasms at the southern end of Lookout Mountain overlooking Weiss Lake. Each October, county residents celebrate Sand Rock Day, featuring games, food, and live music, at the site.
Heritage of Cherokee County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.