Brilliant was first known as Boston, in honor of a local family named Bostick. The town grew up around a coal mine opened in the late 1890s by the Aldridge Mining Company. The Illinois Central Railroad came through town at about the same time, making it easy to ship the coal to market. After the mine was sold to a Birmingham-based group of investors, its name was changed to the Brilliant Coal Company because the coal it produced had so few contaminants. At one time, the mine employed as many as 600 people.
Because of a name conflict with another Alabama municipality, Boston had to change its name when a post office was established; the name Brilliant was chosen in honor of the mine. Brilliant was first incorporated in 1927; it was reincorporated in 1957 when it added the remainder of the town of Boston that was not made part of Brilliant earlier. The Brilliant mine shut down in the 1950s. A manufactured homes factory became a major part of the local economy in 1987 but filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
Brilliant's population according to the 2010 Census was 900. Of that number, 98.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 0.2 percent as African American, 1.6 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 1.0 percent as two or more races, 0.1 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $25,432, and the per capita income was $16,342.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Brilliant was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (22.6 percent)
· Retail trade (14.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (12.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (12.0 percent)
· Public administration (8.3 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (8.0 percent)
· Construction (6.9 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (2.9 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (2.9 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.3 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.1 percent)
Schools in Brilliant are part of the Marion County school system; the town has approximately 390 students and 26 teachers in one elementary school and one high school.
Interstate Highway 22 runs through the southern part of Brilliant traveling southeast-northwest, and State Highway 129 bisects the town running north-south. State Highway 44 runs west from the center of town.
Events and Places of Interest
Brilliant holds an annual Coal Fest to honor its roots as a coalmining town; the celebration is held in May and includes arts
and crafts vendors, live music, artists, and food. Brilliant maintains one municipal park that includes baseball fields, a
playground, and a pavilion that can be rented for special occasions. Dickinson's Store is listed on the Alabama Register of
Landmarks and History.
Marion County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Marion County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
James P. Kaetz
Published July 15, 2013
Last updated July 16, 2013