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Covington County

Patricia Hoskins Morton, Auburn University
Frank Jackson State Park
Located in south Alabama, Covington County is the birthplace of Luther Leonidas Terry, surgeon general of the United States during the 1960s whose educational efforts persuaded millions of Americans to quit smoking. The county is also home to most of the Conecuh National Forest. Covington County is governed by an elected five-member commission.
  • Founding Date: December 7, 1821
  • Area: 1,038 square miles
  • Population: 37,729 (2016 Census estimate)
  • Major Waterways: Conecuh River
  • Major Highways: U.S. 84, U.S 331
  • County Seat: Andalusia
  • Largest City: Andalusia
Covington County Courthouse
Covington County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 7, 1821, and was named for Gen. Leonard Covington of Maryland, who fought in the War of 1812. The county's earliest settlers came from Georgia and the Carolinas. The county's boundaries changed in 1824, 1841, and 1868. In 1868, the name was briefly changed to Jones County but reverted to Covington that same year. The first county seat was established at Montezuma on the banks of the Conecuh River in 1824 but was moved to Andalusia in 1844 after repeated flooding. The county remained relatively isolated until the Louisville and Nashville Railroad completed lines across the county, resulting in the creation of several towns, including Opp, Red Level, Onycha, Gantt, and Florala. At the turn of the century, the county's vast acres of pine forests led to a boom in the timber and turpentine industries.
Major Cities and Demographics
Springdale Estate
According to 2016 Census estimates, Covington County recorded a population of 37,729. Of that total, 84.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 13.1 percent as African American, 1.4 percent as Hispanic, 1.1 percent as two or more races, 0.5 percent as Asian, 0.3 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The county seat, Andalusia, had an estimated population of 9,042. Other population centers in the county include Opp, Libertyville, Heath, Florala, River Falls, Horn Hill, and Red Level. The median household income was $37,313, compared with $44,758 for the state as a whole, and the per capita income was $21,738, compared with $24,736 for the state.
Opp Cotton Mill
Covington County's economy was largely agricultural during the nineteenth century, with cotton and corn being the staple crops. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, products were transported to nearby markets via wagon or flatboat. At the turn of the twentieth century, the abundant timber in south Alabama attracted land speculators who purchased large tracts of timberland, and several sawmills opened in the county. Covington County's vast yellow pine forests also spurred development of the turpentine industry. During the 1920s, several textile mills, including Opp Cotton Mill, Andala Company, and Micolas Cotton Mill, opened in the area. MFG/Alabama, a division of Molded Fiber Glass Companies of Ohio, operates a manufacturing facility in Opp.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Covington County was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.7 percent)
  • Manufacturing (15.4 percent)
  • Retail trade (11.1 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.4 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (8.2 percent)
  • Construction (7.9 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (6.4 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.6 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (5.5 percent)
  • Public administration (5.1 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.1 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.3 percent)
  • Information (1.3 percent)
The Covington County School System oversees eight schools. In addition, the Andalusia City School System and the Opp City School System each oversees three schools.
Covington County Map
Encompassing approximately 1,038 square miles, Covington County lies wholly within the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic section. It is bounded to the north by Butler and Crenshaw Counties, to the east by Coffee and Geneva counties, to the south by Okaloosa and Walton counties in Florida, and to the west by Escambia and Conecuh counties. The Conecuh National Forest, established in 1935, covers a large portion of the southwestern corner of the county. The Conecuh River runs through the western area of the county, and its tributary, Patsaliga Creek, runs through the northwestern section. In addition, Gantt Lake, created in the 1920s, impounds the Conecuh River. The Blackwater, Yellow, and Pea Rivers also feed into the county via the Five Runs, Clear, Dry, Panther, and Corner creeks. U.S 84 runs east-west through the center of the county, and U.S. 29 and U.S. 331 run north-south in the eastern and western sections of the state, respectively.
Events and Places of Interest
Florala City Park
Every year the town of Opp stages Oppfest, an arts and antiques festival held during the last weekend of October. Opp is also home to the Frank Jackson State Park, which includes 2,050 acres and a 1,000-acre lake stocked with bass, bream, crappie, and catfish. Opp also holds an annual Rattlesnake Rodeo. Conecuh National Forest features a 20-mile hiking trail, as well as camping, fishing, and swimming. Florala City Park, located on the Alabama-Florida line, offers swimming, fishing, paddleboating, and picnicking. Gantt Lake, created in the 1920s by the River Falls Power Company, features largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill and is known for its red-ear sunfish, more commonly known as shellcrackers. Springdale Estate is a historic mansion and event center owned by the city of Andalusia; the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its July Jamz summer concert series there. The city is also home to the Three Notch Museum, a complex of several structures including the 1899 Central of Georgia Depot and the Clark Family Cabin.

Additional Resources

Heritage of Covington County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2003.
Ward, Wyley D. Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871. Huntsville, Ala.: Ward, 1976.
Published:  August 29, 2007   |   Last updated:  November 19, 2020