Citronelle is located in north-central Mobile County in the southwest corner of the state.
Although settlers appeared in the area now known as Citronelle as early as 1820, the town itself owes its existence to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which constructed a line through the area to connect with Mobile in 1851-52. The town was laid out by representatives of the railroad and named because of the abundance of citronella plants in the area. The first train ran on the line in 1852. The railroad promoted the town as a health resort because of its altitude and mineral springs and created brochures to encourage tourism. Increasing visits of tourists spurred the construction of several hotels. Early industries in the area included turpentine plants, sawmills, and pecan and fruit orchards.
Citronelle lays claim to being the site of the last surrender of Confederate forces east of the Mississippi, on May 4, 1865. Citronelle was incorporated in 1892, and the library was constructed the following year. Electricity came to the town in 1899. The volunteer fire department was established in 1903, and water and sewer service were provided by 1916.
In recent decades Citronelle has become a center of oil production. The first well was attempted as early as 1902 but ended in failure with a broken drill bit. Oil was discovered north of town in 1955.
Citronelle's population according to the 2010 Census was 3,905. Of that number, 70.7 percent identified themselves as white, 20.2 percent as African American, 4.9 percent as Native American, 2.6 percent as Hispanic, 2.2 percent as two or more races, and 0.5 percent as Asian. The town's median household income according to 2010 estimates was $41,286, and the per capita income was $18,373.
Citronelle's work force, according to 2010 estimates, was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Manufacturing (25.1 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.3 percent)
· Construction (16.8 percent)
· Retail trade (8.3 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.4 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.9 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.8 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.5 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.8 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.8 percent)
· Public administration (1.9 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.6 percent)
Schools in Citronelle are part of the Mobile County School District; the town has approximately 2,245 students and 119 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. The city also has one private religious school with approximately 100 students and five teachers.
U.S. Highway 45 and State Highway 17 run north-south through the city, County Road 41 runs north-south on the cities ease side, and County Road 96 runs east and west from the city.
Events and Places of Interest
Barr's Subdivision Historic District, Central Core Historic District, Citronelle Railroad Historic District, Willis G. Clark House, and the N.Q. and Virginia M. Thompson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Citronelle Depot, the Rosa A. Lott School, and the St. Thomas Episcopal Church are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The Citronelle Depot now houses the Citronelle Historic Preservation Society.
The Mill Creek Municipal Golf Course is an 18-hole course built around a lake and is open to the public. The Clayton Municipal
Park includes an amphitheater, picnic area, baseball and softball fields, and a disc golf course.
Mobile County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Mobile County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants Inc., 2002.
Published February 20, 2012
Last updated July 13, 2012