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Tannehill’s Alabama Iron and Steel Museum

Joseph Harris

            The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park touches a corner of Tuscaloosa County, somewhat near the University of Alabama. I took a Sunday trip up to the beautiful site to check out the grounds and visit the Alabama Iron and Steel Museum. The museum took me by surprise at the amount of information and number of historical artifacts it provided.

In the 1800s, Alabama began to boom when it came to the manufacturing of iron. Never before in the world had someone found iron ore, coal, and limestone all so close together. They began by building forges on the creeks and rivers around the area for water power before steam power was introduced in the twentieth century. When looked at with the Civil War, this area was extremely important to the Confederacy and their war materials. On March 20, 1865 the largest cavalry army of the Civil War was launched directed toward all Alabama areas that were making war materials for the confederates. Brigade General John T. Croxton was dispatched with 1,500 troops to head toward Tannehill Ironworks, and move up from Tuscaloosa from there. Their attack was successful as they took out 13 Alabama iron work places that accounted for 70% of the Confederacies ammunition. There was also information in the museum in regards to the use of a forge hammer, weaponry produced and used, and things found around the grounds after the war. Out back there is the May Plantation Cotton Gin, as well as a shed that held actual machinery used to produce the iron products.