Empire

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Empire is a mining town built by the Empire Coal Company near its Empire Mine in Eastern Walker County north of Sumiton, between the Little Creek and Old Town Creek tributaries of the Sipsey Fork. The community was accessed by a spur from the St Louis & San Francisco Railroad or by Empire Road (Walker County Highway 22/Blount County Highway 5) which runs from Sumiton to U. S. Highway 31 near Blount Springs.

The community began as a camp when the Empire Company was owned by Henry Milner. After it was bought by Frank Nelson Jr, capital was invested to upgrade the miners' living quarters. About 250 houses were constructed on a series of branching streets, along with mine offices and stores and church and school buildings for the resident families. Pitcher Dan Bankhead was born there in 1920. Another pitcher, Ivy Andrews, once played for the company's Industrial League baseball team.

The Empire School on Wingo Road has since closed and fallen into ruin. The Little Vine Baptist Church and Empire Church of God remain open.

The mine was acquired by the new DeBardeleben Coal Corpoaration in 1922 and was one of the most productive in the district. In 1953 operations were switched to surface (strip) mining.

The small community reported two homicides in 2008 and 2009.

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