History of Talladega Springs
While tramping through the woods one day near Fort Williams, a soldier from General Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee Army located a nearby sulphur spring where he noticed a large deer population had gathered to drink. The spring flowed down from Sulphur Mountain, and according to Native American tradition, these waters were believed to have medicinal purposes and could treat various ailments and diseases. Little did this soldier know that he had stumbled upon what would become the location for one of the most well-known resorts in the southeast.
After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, the small settlement of Sulphur Springs was established. Over the next 30 years, the town’s identity changed several times: first as known Sulphur Springs, then Talladega White Sulphur Springs, Franklin, and officially named Talladega Springs in 1845.
Word spread about the mineral rich springs in the southern tip of Talladega county. People flocked to Talladega Springs to drink from the spring and bask in its cool water. The popularity of the springs created an influx of tourists to Talladega Springs, which caused the town to flourish. Vacationers soon traveled from across the state and country to drink from the healing spring waters.
By the mid-1800’s, this once small settlement had evolved into a popular resort town complete with a fashionable hotel, a large dining hall with waiters in white coats serving bountiful meals, Birmingham orchestras, evening dances under the town pavilion, and eventually, a Coca-Cola bottling plant. Talladega Springs grew even more in 1891 after the completion of the L&N Railroad that connected the town to more metropolitan cities such as Birmingham, Calera, Gadsden and Anniston. The train ran up to four times a day and often delivered more than 500 guests each day.
Unfortunately, tourism quickly declined after 1914. Merely 15 miles downriver from Talladega Springs was the newly constructed Lay Dam on the Coosa River. With the backwater rising to just within a mile of Talladega Springs, residents and visitors became fearful of a Malaria outbreak from the dammed lake water and quickly left Talladega Springs to avoid contracting the disease.
Ironically, Talladega Springs was founded because of water, but it was also water that led to its sudden demise. The once glamorous and bustling resort town of Talladega Springs faded to the background. Talladega Springs couldn’t keep up with the more modern resorts in the South, and with the rise of the automobile, the train was used less frequently and cars gave vacationers more flexibility to travel.
Here we are more than 100 years later and less than five miles from the town of Talladega Springs. As we at Pursell Farms continue to grow and expand as a premier resort in the southeast, we want to tribute and remember Talladega Springs as the first resort town in this area and not forget its significant impact. Though much of its history has faded away, we have researched, listened to countless stories and collected images that help us honor the town of Talladega Springs.