History of Bridgeport
In 1848 Bridgeport was named Joinesville for Richard Armistead Jones who was the areas’s largest landowner. In the early 1850’s the Nashville and Chattanooga changed the area. In 1854 the name was changed to Bridgeport for a new railroad bridge over the Tennessee River, which caused it to be a strategic site during the Civil War.
It was the site of a major skirmish on April 23, 1862, known as the Siege of Bridgeport. During the latter part of the war, Bridgeport was the site of a major shipyard building gunboats and steamboats for the Union Army. The USS Chattanooga was built here and became a vital part of the “Cracker Line”, which broke the Confederate’s siege of Chattanooga in November 1863. Every year, the historical event is remembered through the largest Civil War re-enactment in the state of Alabama.
Bridgeport was incorporated as a city in 1891. The Bridgeport Depot Museum was built in 1917 ans shortly after there were 28 passenger trains stopping at the Bridgeport Depot which made this riverside town a bustling stop in southeast transportation.
The reduction of the rail system began with the production of automobiles and the construction of Highway 72. By the early 1950’s the construction of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s widows Creek Steamplant helped the railroad, due to large amounts of coal needed to fire the boilers for the production of electricity. Eventually, the coal was shipped by trucks on the highway.
In 2015, Google announced the building of a data center in Bridgeport which caused the whole world to “Google” Bridgeport Alabama. This was the spark the town needed and have been able to make some wonderful community improvements.
With new businesses popping up in their picturesque downtown area, the future looks bright as they work on improving streets capes in their town center and installing a riverside walking trail.
Russell Cave National Monument
Explore 10,000 years of Native American history at Bridgeport’s Russell Cave. An archaeological site with one of the most complete records of prehistoric cultures, in the Southeast.
In 1961 Russell Cave, named after a local landowner, is one of the largest caves in Jackson County which features a river that flows out of its breathtaking opening. In a National Geographic dig done in the 1960’s, it was discovered that Russell Cave was home to many Native Americans for long periods of history and was then made into a National Monument by President John F. Kennedy.
Although the inside of the cave is not accessible to the public, the entrance is definitely something to behold. In addition to this massive cave, sinkholes, unique rock formations and a myriad of plants species and wildlife, can be found on the 310 acre property. This park is also listed on the Alabama Birding trail-as a great place to bird watch in Alabama
The Siege of Bridgeport
A 25+ year old historical event that quickly became the best Civil War Re-enactment in the State of Alabama, located on one of the original sites in Jackson County outside of city limits in Bridgeport, Alabama. Off Highway 72, on County Road 255.
In the spring of 2019, Bridgeport celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the re-enactment that commemorates the 157th anniversary of the war between the states. The Siege at Bridgeport Committee thanks residents and visitors for their continued support over the years to help keep this important historical event alive.
Bridgeport Trail of Tears
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 called for the voluntary or forcible removal of all Indians from the eastern United States to the state of Oklahoma. May of 1838 marked the deadline for voluntary native removal. So began the Cherokee “Trail of Tears,” one of the darkest episodes in relations between the United States and Native Americans.
As many as 4,000 deaths occurred because of this forced removal of civilized Native Americans from their rightful homes. In the end, members of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole nations suffered the same fate as the Cherokees.
Join us as we honor those from the past who traveled this Trail of Tears as we ride the Drane/Hood Overland Route. Let us learn from this mistake, accept each other as we are, and ride together in peace.