Athens Alabama is one of the oldest cities in the state, and was founded in the year 1818, one year before the State was admitted to the Union.
Located in the north central part of the state in Limestone County, it is considered part of the Huntsville and Decatur geographic areas.
It is also home to what used to be the nation’s largest nuclear power plant, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant.
The town of Athens Alabama has a very rich history based off of it extremely rich farmland, and its proximity to transportation.
The area of the country that the town is located in was part of the Mississippi Territory that was purchased by the United States in the early 1800’s.
The first white settlers in the area were Robert Beaty and John Corriel, who obtained the first of the land grants.
The soil in the ground was extremely rich in nutrients, and both men were granted 160 acres, setting the roots for growth in the area.
By the year 1818, several new settlers had arrived and in the same year, it was incorporated and became the county seat for Limestone County.
The County itself was created as the result of an act by the Alabama Territorial Legislature in the year 1818.
It original name was Athenson, but was later change to Athens after the famous town in Greece by the same name.
The town of Athens Alabama was the home of the first two Governors of the State, William Bibb and his brother Thomas Bibb.
Thomas succeeded his brother William; he was killed in a tragic horse related accident.
In the year 1822 the residents of the town made a purchase of 5 areas of land, and begin construction of the Athens Female Academy.
After more than 100 years as an all-female institution, males were accepted in 1932, and the name was changed to Athens College.
There are several homes in the area that are antebellum homes, (Pre-Civil War) and during the Civil War, most of them were ransacked and destroyed.
The railroad had grown and become an important supply route in the area, which is what attracted the Union Army.
Early in the year of 1862, Union troops under the command of Colonel John Turchin, attacked the city.
According to the reports, this commander let his troops do whatever they wanted, and they did a lot of damage to the city.
Because of this, he was later court-martialed and resigned from the army.
There is a historic marker located in the Towns Square, so the people of Athens Alabama never forget what the Union troops did to their town.
During the Reconstruction of the South after the War, the town became the home of the Trinity School.
The Trinity School was developed for the purpose of educating the children of former slaves, by the American Missionary Association.
In the year 1974, Athens Alabama became the home of the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, and at the time, it was the largest of its kind in the world.
It soon became one of the largest employers in the Huntsville-Decatur metropolitan area, but it was not long before near tragedy struck.
On March 22, 1975, it became the site of the largest nuclear incident outside of the Three Mile Island accident.
A worker at the plant used a candle to check for an air leak in the plant, and it started a fire in several of the control wires.
This caused an immediate threat to the total operational control of the nuclear reactor, but it was finally safely brought under control.
There are several places of history and interest to see in Athens Alabama, and they include the following.
The Alabama Veterans Museum is located at 100 Pryor Street West and displays both memorabilia as well as recorded testimonies of Veterans.
The Athens Historic District includes four separate districts that feature homes form the early 1800’s, that were not destroyed by the Union army.
The Courthouse Square offers a place not only to enjoy the history of the area but is home for several art and music events in the area.
The College Inn Gulf Station is a fully restored full-service gas station that was built in the early 1920’s.
It also served as a bus stop for men and women going to and returning from military service.
It is located at 125 East Street.
The Trinity/ Fort Henderson Site helps to tell the story of slaves that became soldiers, and then returned to become students.
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