Birmingham District

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Map of coal and iron ore resources in Alabama

The Birmingham District refers to a geological area in the vicinity of Birmingham, Alabama where the raw materials for making steel, limestone, iron ore, and coal, are found together in abundance. The district includes Red Mountain, Jones Valley, and the Warrior and Cahaba coal fields in Central Alabama.

The industrial development of these resources began, in limited fashion, before the Civil War (attracting the attention of Wilson's Raiders in the course of that conflict).

Beginning in 1871 with the founding of the City of Birmingham and the construction of the first blast furnaces, the development of the district enjoyed explosive growth, slowed only by a deficit of skilled labor and investment capital. This boom earned for Birmingham the nickname "The Magic City" and also spurred the growth of several independent industrial cities and dozens of company towns.

By the end of the 19th century, Birmingham was the third largest exporter of pig iron in the world, producing 3/4ths of United States exports. The region was also a major exporter of coal, and, as technology advanced, became a major steel producing district. With a few notable exceptions such as cast iron pipes and fittings, most of the district's economic output was in basic materials rather than in finished consumer products.

As the steel-making industry has diminished in its economic importance to the district, many of the sites have been abandoned or dismantled. Preservationists are attempting to document and preserve the physical evidence of Birmingham's industrial history. In the spring of 1993 a large-scale survey was undertaken for the Birmingham Historical Society and the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. The results of that survey were published in the book Birmingham Bound.

See also



  • "Birmingham District." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 11 Mar 2006, 14:08 UTC. 17 Mar 2006, 02:27 link.