Old Depot Museum
The remarkable museum in
downtown Selma traces the
full course of the city's unique
and special heritage.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Selma, Alabama
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Selma, Alabama
The historic Edmund Pettus Bridge leads across the
Alabama River into downtown Selma. The city claims
one of the richest heritages of any town in America.
Sturdivant Hall in Selma
Now a museum, the beautiful
old home was described as
"the finest Greek Revival Neo-
Classic Antebellum Mansion
in the Southeast" by an
architect for The White House.
"The Sleeping Prophet"
The famed psychic or "seer"
Edgar Cayce operated a
photography studio in Selma
for eleven years.
Old Cahawba Ghost Town
The famed Alabama ghost
town of Old Cahawba can be
found just outside of Selma
on the Alabama River.
Selma, Alabama - Historic Sites and Points of Interest
Historic City on the Alabama...
With its ties to both the Civil Rights Movement
that swept the nation during the 20th Century
and the Civil War that exploded in the 19th,
the historic city of Selma, Alabama, holds an
honored place in American history.
Incorporated on the banks of the Alabama
River in 1820, the beautiful old city of Selma
was planned by William R. King, a future Vice
President of the United States. The city's
location atop a prominent bluff overlooking
the river assured it a future as an important
port and commercial center.
A Jacksonian Democrat, King was a U.S.
Senator at the time he did his work at Selma.
He served as Senator from Alabama for 29
years, seven of them as President pro
tempore of the U.S. Senate. Elected Vice
President on the ticket with Franklin Pierce,
he died of tuberculosis in 1853 after only 45
days in office. He is buried in a mausoleum
in Selma's Old Live Oak Cemetery.
During the Civil War, Selma emerged as a
major center for the manufacture of
Confederate war materials. The city was
located close to the iron furnaces of central
Alabama, was connected to other key points
in the Confederacy by rail, had a large work
force and was located on the navigable
Alabama River well inland from the coast.
The Southern navy built the famed ironclad
C.S.S. Tennessee in Selma. One of her guns
can be seen today at city hall. Workers in the
city also produced cannon, iron plating,
ammunition, small arms and a variety of
other necessary material for the Confederate
war effort. Selma's isolation from the coast
protected it from Union attack until the final
days of the war.
Commanded by General Nathan Bedford
Forrest, Confederate troops and volunteers
fought the Battle of Ebenezer Church on
March 31, 1865, and the Battle of Selma on
April 1, 1865, in a last ditch effort to save the
city from capture. Outnumbered, the Southern
forces failed and Selma fell into the hands of
General James H. Wilson's Union army.
The Battle of Selma was the last major fight
for Nathan Bedford Forrest. Citizens of Selma
joined his forces during the battle and
several lost their lives. Among them was Rev.
Arthur Small, a prominent local minister who
is now buried in a place of honor at Old Live
The manufacturing facilities in the city were
destroyed during Wilson's Raid, but Selma
rebounded. In 1963, an effort was initiated in
the city that would forever change the United
Remembered today as the Selma Movement,
the campaign began with a handful of Civil
Rights leaders who sought to guarantee
such basic rights as the right to vote to all
people, regardless of color. Intense battles
followed and over the next two years more
than 3,000 people were arrested, but the
Movement continued to grow.
The climactic day came on March 7, 1965,
when 600 marchers representing people
from all walks of life and all races started
across the Edmund Pettus Bridge at Selma,
intent on marching to Montgomery to air their
grievances to Governor George Wallace.
They were attacked on the opposite side of
the bridge by state troopers and sheriff's
deputies wielding billy clubs and tear gas.
The confrontation, remembered today as
"Bloody Sunday," forced the marchers to turn
back into Selma.
Two days later, another force of protesters
led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., marched to
the bridge as lawyers worked behind the
scene to secure the involvement of the
The effort succeeded. U.S. District Judge
Frank Minis Johnson, Jr., ruled that the
protesters had a right to peacefully assemble
and march. On March 21, 1965, fourteen
days after "Bloody Sunday," 3,200 marchers
crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge bound for
Montgomery. This time they were protected
by troops from Alabama National Guard.
The events in Selma marked a turning point
in the history of the American Civil Rights
Movement. The march on the capital us
memorialized today by the Selma to
Montgomery National Historic Trail, a
developing national park area.
Selma is a charming and hospitable city that
takes great pride in its heritage. Markers and
monuments dot the landscape and visitors
holding a wide array of historical interests
come to visit the old city.
Key points of interest and historic sites
include the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A park
and overlook area on the Selma side of the
bridge provides a beautiful view of the span
itself as well as the Alabama River. On the
opposite shore, monuments and a small
park mark the site of Bloody Sunday.
Just up the street from the bridge is the Old
Depot Museum, which takes visitors on a
fascinating walk through Selma's history.
The downtown area is dotted with landmarks
associated with both the Civil Rights Era and
the Civil War and there is even a marker on
Broad Street downtown noting the site of the
one-time photography studio of famed
psychic or "seer" Edgar Cayce. Please click
here to visit Selma's official tourism site.
Be sure to follow the links below for more
information on the Selma area.
Grave of William R. King
This mausoleum in Selma's
Old Live Oak Cemetery holds
the remains of William R.
King, Vice President of the
United States under
President Franklin Pierce.
Bloody Sunday - 1965
Civil Rights marchers who
crossed the Edmund Pettus
Bridge from Selma on March
7, 1965, were met with violent
opposition on the other shore.
The incident is remembered
today as Bloody Sunday.
|Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.