Known for its hospitality, beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, and obsession with college football, Alabama is a state filled with Southern charm and plenty of exciting places to visit. A city with a ring to its name, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, located in west-central Alabama along the Fall Line right on the Black Warrior River, will surely catch your eye. Also known as “The Oak City” and “The Druid City” because of its prominent water oaks, Tuscaloosa was the capital of Alabama between 1826 and 1846. It has been home to the University of Alabama since 1831.
Geography of Tuscaloosa
Located between the Appalachian Highlands and the Gulf Coastal Plain, Tuscaloosa’s landscape is heavily forested in the northeast and swampy and low in the southwest. Its geography is quite varied.
There are 22 named mountains in Tuscaloosa Country, the largest of which is Iron Ore Mountain, with an approximate elevation of 659 feet. The tallest peak in the county, however, is called Round Mountain. It stands at almost 788 feet.
The famous Appalachian Mountains run diagonally across the northeast part of the county, stretching from Alabama to Canada.
Alabama may not have the highest peaks in the country, but it does have several mountains that offer incredible scenery. Whether you like to hike or just relax and take in the views, you’ll love packing your bags and heading to these mountains for a little dose of nature.
Tuscaloosa’s natural resources are abundant due to its six different bodies of water, such as Lake Tuscaloosa (5,885 acres), Harris (220 acres), and Nicol (384 acres). They are located less than 25 minutes by car from its city center.
Completed in 1970, Lake Tuscaloosa is the primary source of drinking water for county residents. It was created by building a dam in the North River. This lake is known for its year-round fishing and boating culture.
Tuscaloosa has long, hot, humid summers with short, cold winters. Its temperature ranges from 36°F to 91°F and is rarely lower than 22°F or higher than 97°F. Typically, the weather is humid and partly cloudy for most of the year.
History of Tuscaloosa
Derived from the Indian words Trow Choctaw, “touchka” meaning warrior and “lusa” meaning black, Tuscaloosa directly translates to Black Warrior. It is named after the Choctaw chief who fought Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 at the Battle of Mauvila. Historically inhabited by local Native Americans, the county has been primarily influenced by their culture and traditions. The first white settler was Thomas York, who arrived with his family in 1816.
Tuscaloosa recorded a population of 103,946 in 2020. Of this total, 51.9% identified as White, 44% as African American, 2.54% Asian, 1.04% as two or more races and 0, 28% as Native Americans or Alaska Natives, with an annual growth rate of 0.91%. With so many different cultures that have left their mark on the county, it’s no surprise to see its diversity in numbers.
Economy of Tuscaloosa
Being the hub of industry and commerce in western Alabama, Tuscaloosa has a mayor-council form of government. Some significant parts of its economy are heavily dependent on services, especially health care and education. Coal mining and poultry production are also important. As for its manufacturing activities, Tuscaloosa is home to the Mercedes-Benz plant, which brings in some of its per capita income at nearly $22,068. Tires, metal screens, paper products, compact discs, and steel production are a significant part of the county’s economy, with a median household income of $37,522.
Attractions in Tuscaloosa
With so many natural geographic destinations such as lakes, rivers, and mountains, there is plenty to do around Tuscaloosa. It also has a rich history and is home to many structures and buildings that should not be missed once in the county. Originally serving as a hotel and bar, the Old Tavern, built in 1827, has since been transformed into a museum open to the public.
Other notable historic homes in Tuscaloosa include: Historic Drish House, built in the 1830s by physician John R. Drish, Battle-Friedman House, built in 1835 by Alfred Battle, and Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion , built by politician and planter Robert Jemison Jr. Today. Both structures serve as event centers. As for the Battle-Friedman house, it is open to the public for visits. Also, another must-see is the rich campus of the University of Alabama and its historic buildings on site, such as the Alabama Museum of Natural History.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are many sites and stops along the way, one of which is Lake Lurleen State Park, named after former Governor Lurleen Wallace. This 1,625-acre park sits on the shores of a scenic 250-acre lake and is approximately 10 miles from downtown. It includes a modern campground, playground, activity building, picnic area, pavilions, beach with bathhouse, fishing piers, and boat rentals.
Whether you want to learn more about history or sit back and relax at one of its scenic lakes, Tuscaloosa has a lot to offer its visitors. Little planning is needed before visiting as the weather is relatively pleasant and the county is accessible to anyone wishing to see it.