You may have seen tracks in the middle of some of our historic downtown and residential streets. Are those leftover from real streetcars or were they simply added later for decorative purposes? Indeed, they ARE real streetcar tracks!
The Cotaco Opera house was located in the “New Decatur”/Albany Downtown. Its name was derived from the first name of “Morgan” County—originally, “Cotaco County.
Early industries were established here in 1887 when a group of Northern industrialists partnered with prominent local residents to build a new town originally named New Decatur and later renamed Albany for the purpose of building an industrial base centered on railroads and the Tennessee River.
The study of history is one of the best ways to predict the future. The history of Decatur is one of profound hardship, the perseverance of its people—and the triumph of a city. Decatur has endured yellow fever epidemics in 1878 and again in 1888 (the “coronavirus” of its day) that brought the city to its knees—only to see it rise again bigger and stronger than before.
Austinville had its own high school from about 1937 until about 1959 after Austinville was incorporated into Decatur pursuant to a vote by the people of Austinville. Austin High School, Decatur’s largest public high school became the successor to Austinville High School in 1962. Part of the old Austinville High School still remains today as part of Austinville Elementary School.
While much of the city’s early history is centered on the Tennessee River, therefore in the NE and NW areas of the city, significant history also occurred in the Southwest portion of the city! The Austin family with its many branches were early pioneer settlers of Morgan County including Decatur and surrounding areas.
In the area of Decatur near present day Point Mallard Park and especially on the Limestone County side of the Tennessee River and lands which were originally intact, but now covered by the river was a Paleo-Indian site known as The Quad
Did you know that Decatur is 200 years old in 2020? We have a bicentennial team of community leaders who have already been hard at work on “All Things Decatur. While we actually have history that dates back thousands of years (more on that later…) and we also have two other recognized birthdays (more on that later, too!), the year 1820 had great significance for our community.
David Breland is kind of a big deal in Morgan County. His memory goes WAAAAY back (check out his picture), but he also is a local expert in Morgan County history. David is Director of Historical Resources and Events for the City of Decatur in Morgan County, Alabama.