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Wetumpka History


City of Wetumpka Facts

You May or May Not Know About Wetumpka 1834- 2015

1)       The name Wetumpka is derived from the Indian word “We-wau”(Water) “Tum-Cau”(Rumbling)

2)       1714 Fort Toulouse was built, it was selected because of its strategic location.

3)       1763 Wetumpka became part of the British province of Illinois.

4)       1776 William Bartram visited Wetumpka- became part of “Bartram Trail”

5)       1798 Wetumpka part of Mississippi territory became a part of the United States.

6)       1800 First jail was built by prison labor, the “Calaboose” still stands today.

7)       1814 Red Eagle surrendered to Andrew Jackson at Fort Toulouse.

8)       1817, March 3- Alabama territory was created, Wetumpka was in the boundaries.

9)       1818 Wetumpka was a part of Autauga County & eastern portion of Coosa County.

10)   1818 William Walker opened a trading post at Harrowgate (*sic) springs.

11)   1820 Wetumpka Methodist Church was organized.

12)   1821, May 26- the First Baptist church was organized.

13)   1821 First steam boat the “Harriet” reached Montgomery from Wetumpka.

14)   1830 First bridge was built, this bridge washed away.

15)   1833 Legislature authorized a toll road from the river landing in Wetumpka, North to Sylacauga.

16)   1833 First Boarding House was open by John Horton.

17)   1833 “Falls of Coosa” a Post Office was opened.

18)   1833 “Bachelor's Hall”, the first hotel opened.

19)   1834 January 17, east side of town was incorporated in Coosa County.

20)   1834 February 18, west side of town was incorporated in Autauga County.

21)   1934 A new bridge was completed.

22)   1834 Ferry boats and bateau had to be used to cross the river.

23)   1836 Opthleyahola (*sic) commissioned as a Colonel by the US led 1,500 warriors against the Creek Indians.    

24)   1836 The population was 1,200.

25)   1836 January 10, the Presbyterian Church was organized

26)   1836 Wetumpka Male & Female Academy were chartered

27)   1836 Newspapers in the east asserted that Wetumpka and Chicago were the two most promising cities in the west.

28)   1836 Daniel Pratt passed Wetumpka in his search for a location for his Cotton Gin

29)   1836 Wetumpka commissioned its own steam boat, “The Coosa Belle” to ferry passengers & cotton between Wetumpka and Mobile. 

30)   1836 Population was 1,200

31)   1836 January 13, Wetumpka and Coosa railroad Co., was incorporated.

32)   1837 Opthleyhola (*sic) led 8,000 of his people from Alabama to lands north, now known as Oklahoma.

33)   1838 First Hospital/Clinic was opened with three beds.

34)   1838 Wetumpka population was greater than Montgomery.

35)   1838 Malaria was one of the most common diseases in Wetumpka

36)   1838, May 15- a dancing school was opened, lessons were offered to young men.

37)   1839 A drought closed the Coosa river to transportation.

38)   1839 Wetumpka was chosen as a site for the state penitentiary.

39)   1839, January 30- both east and west sides of Wetumpka were incorporated into one

40)   1840 Plank roads were used, the most common being Central Plank road which started in Montgomery and passed through Wetumpka.

41)   1841 Wetumpka State Penitentiary was complete, it was surrounded by 25 foot high walls. 

42)   1841 State named Wetumpka as a site for Medical University, but plans got only as far as paper.

43)   1842 The first inmate entered the prison, his sentence was 20 years for harboring a slave.

44)   1844 A covered bridge was built by Master Builder, Horace King.

45)   1845 Wetumpka suffers disastrous fires, all buildings from Bridge to Hill street were destroyed. 

46)   1845 Wetumpka & Montgomery were in competition for the honor of becoming State Capitol, Wetumpka lost by few votes.

47)   1852 Wetumpka suffers another fire, 42 business houses burnt to the ground.

48)   1861 Civil War struck Wetumpka leaving it devastated.

49)   1865 Federal Soldiers opened the doors of the Penitentiary and turned prisoners loose.

50)   1866 Elmore County was created, Wetumpka was chosen as the site to have the County Courthouse.

51)   1867 E.M Cain drugstore opened.

52)   1870 W.C Bulger was Mayor of Wetumpka.

53)   1875 The population was over 3,000.

54)   1876 You could purchase 6 to 8 acres of land for twenty five cents an acre.

55)   1878 Rail lines came to Wetumpka

56)   1879 The population was 619.

57)   1880 Cabot Lull was Mayor of Wetumpka

58)   1884, March 27- ground was broken for the new Courthouse.

59)   1886 Devastating flood cresting at 61.7 feet, highest on record.

60)   1886 Existing covered bridge was washed away by flood waters.

61)   1886 Cotton was selling for .24 cent by pound.

62)   1886, April to 1867, Oct. There was no bridge to cross the river.

63)   1887 A heavy earthquake shook Wetumpka.

64)   1887 The washed-away covered bridge was replaced by a new modern iron bridge.

65)   1887 A telephone was installed in the office of the bridge.

66)   1887 Fifth District Agriculture School was established.

67)   1890 Code of the City of Wetumpka were passed by ordinance on September 2nd.

68)   1893 R.S William was Mayor of Wetumpka.

69)   1895 W.P Gaddis was Mayor of Wetumpka.

70)   1896 June - Lock #31 was completed and never used for the purpose it was built.

71)   1898 First issue of the “Weekly Herald” (Wetumpka Herald) was published.

72)   1899 George E. Smith was Mayor of Wetumpka.

73)   1900 A book club was organized.

74)   1901 F.B McCaskey was Mayor of Wetumpka.

75)   1902 Wetumpka suffers another disastrous fire.

76)   1903 Lancaster Hotel was built and offered shuttle service to and from Montgomery.

77)   1903 First High School football game was played.

78)   1903 J.M Jenkins built a Bee Hive factory, it became one of the largest in the United States.

79)   1905 First National Bank opened.

80)   1905 Electric power and water arrived in Wetumpka.

81)   1906 The population was 851.

82)   1906 Wetumpka Library Association was established.

83)   1906 Wetumpka Fire Department was formed.

84)   1906 L&N railroad built a new depot in Wetumpka.

85)   1908 First National Bank building burnt down.

86)   1908 Tolls were taken off the bridge and it was free to cross.

87)   1908 Fire occurred damaging First National Bank & Central Telephone Station & a Millinery Parlor.

88)   1909 The first Model T Ford chugged through the streets of Wetumpka.

89)   1910 Frank W. Lull was Mayor of Wetumpka.

90)   1911 Cement sidewalks replaced the wooden planks on the main thoroughfares through Wetumpka.

91)   1911 Saloons were outlawed and whiskey was only sold in Wetumpka and Tallassee.

92)   1913 Fain Theater brought the stars to the silver screen, located on Hill and Bridge Street.

93)   1914 W.M Pennington opened the first Car Dealership.

94)   1918 Influenza epidemic swept over Wetumpka, killing many.

95)   1918 J.M Holley was Mayor of Wetumpka.

96)   1920 The Ben Franklin variety store opened.

97)   1920 Forrest Little Sr., was Mayor of Wetumpka.

98)   1922 Alabama Mills was opened in Wetumpka.

99)   1922 J.R Airy was Mayor of Wetumpka.

100)            1923 Wetumpka was made a Second Class Post Office.

101)            1924 First Elmore County Fair was held in Wetumpka.

102)            1924 A paved road from Montgomery to Wetumpka was completed.

103)            1924 Elmore County Training School was built for black students.

104)            1924 August 1, The first delivery of mail was made. 

105)            1925 The Ice Company was organized, making 25 tons of ice every 24 hours.

106)            1925 Fain Theater moved to the foot of the bridge.

107)            1925 The Coosa River was at a record low of -2.5 feet.

108)            1928 The Wetumpka Lions club was organized.  

109)            1929 Alabama Power bought the Electric Light Plant of Wetumpka.

110)            1930 Jasmine Hill Gardens was built on the Fitzpatrick Estate.

111)            1931 Bibb Graves bridge was completed.

112)            1932 Ed Sandford was Mayor of Wetumpka.

113)            1934 The population was 2,000.

114)            1932 April, Elmore County Courthouse was completed.

115)            1935 Wetumpka General Hospital was built.

116)            1935 The first traffic light was installed.

117)            1935 Elmore County Department of Public Welfare was organized.

118)            1937 The downtown Post Office was completed.

119)            1938 Another flood hit Wetumpka.

120)            1938 Cartoon character “Popeye” was based on the life of Tom Sims, who grew up on the Coosa River.

121)            1942 Julia Tutwiler Prison was completed.

122)            1947 The “Community House” known today as the Fain Center was completed.

123)            1947 The Fine Arts Club was organized.

124)            1948 Ellis Austin Sr., was Mayor of Wetumpka.

125)            1948 League of Women Voters was organized.

126)            1948 Virtually all of Wetumpka’s streets had been paved.

127)            1948 Wetumpka Fire Department got its first pumper truck.

128)            1949 Wetumpka Garden Club was organized.

129)            1950 A City Planning Board was formed.

130)            1952 Merrill Wall was Mayor of Wetumpka.

131)            1952 Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce was formed.

132)            1954 Wetumpka Kiwanis Club was formed.

133)            1956 Mac Freeman Jr., was Mayor of Wetumpka.

134)            1957 National Guard Armory was completed.

135)            1960 Ellis Austin Sr., was Mayor of Wetumpka.

136)            1964 Demp Thrash was Mayor of Wetumpka.

137)            1968 C.E Weldon was Mayor of Wetumpka.

138)            1970 The Historical Commission was formed.

139)            1971 Ed Speer was Mayor of Wetumpka.

140)            1972 Melvin Gray was Mayor of Wetumpka.

141)            1972 First Christmas Parade in Wetumpka.

142)            1975 Fain Theater closed its doors.

143)            1979 Another flood strikes Wetumpka, river crests at 55.5 feet.

144)            1980 Truman Welch was Mayor of Wetumpka.

145)            1981 Wetumpka YMCA was built.

146)            1984 Wetumpka’s Coat of Arms, painted by Wetumpka artist Austin R. Martin was approved by the City Council.

147)            1984 Poarch Band of Creek Indians were recognized officially by the US Bureau of Indians.

148)            1984 The first “Christmas on the Coosa” event was enjoyed by many.

149)            1984 Jeanett Barrett was Mayor of Wetumpka.

150)            1985 Wetumpka Industrial Park was opened off Hwy 231 on Red Eagle Drive.

151)            1986 Old Elmore County Trading School was turned into a Black History Museum.

152)            1988 Jack Wood was Mayor of Wetumpka.

153)            1988 New Wetumpka High School campus was completed.

154)            1991 Marion Sanford was Mayor of Wetumpka.

155)            1992 Alma Leak was Mayor of Wetumpka.

156)            1995 The movie “The Grass Harp” was filmed in Wetumpka.

157)            1995 The Judicial Complex was opened.

158)            1996 William F. “Bill” Sahlie was acting Mayor of Wetumpka.

159)            1996 Jasmine Gardens was selected for the Olympic torch relay for the Summer Olympic Games  in Atlanta.

160)            1996 Lewis E. Washington Sr.,  was mayor.

161)            1996 Jo Glenn was Mayor of Wetumpka.

162)            1998 The new Post Office on Fort Toulouse road opened.

163)            2000 The population was 5,726.

164)            2000 Scott Golden was Mayor of Wetumpka.

165)          2001 Creek Casino opens in Wetumpka.

166)            2002 Wetumpka was officially recognized as the site of an Impact Crater.

167)            2002 Coosa River Challenge Adventure Race took place for the first time.

168)            2002 The movie, “The Rosa Parks Story” was filmed in Wetumpka.

169)            2003 “The Big Fish” movie was filmed in Wetumpka.

170)            2003 Coosa River Challenge began with enthusiasts testing themselves against the Coosa River.

171)            2003 Attack on Swayback Mountain Bike Race began.

172)            2004 Jo Glenn was Mayor of Wetumpka.

173)        2004 State Rest Area on U.S. Highway 231 deeded to Wetumpka

174)            2006 Wetumpka Civic Center opened.

175)            2007 The Riverwalk was completed.

176)        2007 City Purchased a former bank property, currently the City's Administrative building.

177)            2008 Jerry Willis was elected Mayor of Wetumpka.

178)        2008 Work begun on phase one of a new recreational complex (a 5 field softball pod).

179)            2009 First Mardi Gras Parade was held.

180)        2009 Old Post Office became the new home of the Elmore County Museum.

181)         2012 Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce hires Vanessa Lynch as Executive Director.

182)            2012 City of Wetumpka launches Downtown & Riverfront Redevelopment Plan.

183)        2012 Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce purchased block of buildings in downtown Wetumpka for the creation of a small business incubator and additional meeting space.

184)         2013 Annual Craterfest Event was begun by the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce.

185)         2013 Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka expands gaming facilties built on Poarch Creek Indian grounds and opens hotel to the public to a crowd of thousands.

186)        2013 Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Art Gallery opens at Wetumpka City Administrative Building.

187)        2014 Traveling Smithsonian Exhibit "The Way We Worked" comes to Wetumpka.

188)        2014 Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka reveal custom designed Shark Tank featured on the TV Show "Tanked".

189)          2014 Chamber of Commerce launched "Impact Wetumpka" Capital Campaign and raised 1.4 Million in pledges.  

190)       2015 Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka hosts grand opening of their Concert Entertainment Center.

191)       2015 City Expanded the Sports Complex.

192)       2015 Chamber of Commerce begins 1.3 million renovation work for block of buildings on Court Street and East Bridge Street. Completed in July 2016.

193)       2015 City begins work on downtown water and sewer pipe replacement.

194)         2016 The Chamber hired Gerald Purcell as the Executive Director.

195)         2016 The Chamber opened the Business and Innovation Center as an incubator for startup-small businesses.

(*sic) spelling is correct



Wetumpka - The City Of Natural Beauty

Bibb Graves Bridge
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and situated at the lower end of the shoals of the Coosa River, Wetumpka, Alabama has often been called "The City of Natural Beauty." 


Slightly Southeast of center in the State, Elmore County with Wetumpka as its county seat is Alabama's third fastest growing county.  Currently it boasts a population in excess of 65,875. 

The City, governed by a Mayor and five-member Council, is both agricultural and industrial.  Nearby lakes and rivers make Wetumpka an ideal vacation spot and also provide gracious year round living and recreation.


Lovely 19th century homes, churches, and other landmark locations, many of which  have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, provide great attraction for tourists and those who wish to come to this area.

Located just northeast of Montgomery, Wetumpka affords leisure living outside the big city atmosphere and provides the attraction of small town closeness and attitude.  Wetumpka's wide range of unique shops and service-oriented offices complement the large shopping areas in nearby Montgomery.


Both Wetumpka and Elmore County have attractions to accommodate a wide variety of interests.  Local waterways are ideal for fishing, boating, skiing, canoeing, and a variety of other sports.  For the outdoorsman and hunter, this is a veritable paradise of deer, turkey, dove, quail, rabbit and squirrel.  Local public and private clubs offer swimming, golf, tennis, soccer, Dixie League softball, and other activities.  Nature lovers can savor the fauna and flora of the numerous walking, running, and biking areas located in the County.  History buffs can enjoy Fort Toulouse, L & N Depot, historic churches, homes and down town area.  The moderate climate and annual mean temperature of 61 degrees make outdoor recreational activities possible all year around.


Some twenty religious denominations, having hundreds of locations, an excellent public school system, progressive health care facilities, and rapidly developing city and community services all blend together to produce an attractive and positively developing community.  Come to "our home" and visit with us or retire to this unique area.  You aren't likely to find a nicer place than Wetumpka - The better place to live, to work, to play, to retire...!