About Quizzes

History of Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tuscaloosa, the county seat of Tuscaloosa County, is located in west central Alabama, on the Black Warrior River. The city is named for the Choctaw chief Tascaluza, or Tuskalusa, who was defeated by Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mauvila. A granite memorial to him stands on the courthouse lawn. The word Tuscaloosa is derived from two Choctaw Indian words – "tushka" (warrior) and "lusa" (black). The river shoals at Tuscaloosa marked the southernmost place on the river that could be consistently forded during most of the year. The same network of Indian trails that converged on the site later brought white settlers to the area. The density of white settlers in the area increased greatly after the War of 1812. The log cabins that soon established near the large Creek village were named in honor of the legendary Choctaw chief. Alabama's territorial government incorporated Tuscaloosa on December 13, 1819, the day before Alabama entered the Union as the 22nd state. In 1826 Tuscaloosa was chosen as the state capital and served as such until 1846. The site of the capitol is now an archaeological site, preserved in Capitol Park. The University of Alabama was founded here in 1831. The city grew rapidly until the capital was moved to Montgomery, which caused a rapid decline in population. However, Bryce State Hospital for the Insane, founded in the 1850s, helped restore the city's fortunes. Now simply called Bryce State Hospital, the facility is the largest inpatient psychiatric facility in the state. Several thousand men from Tuscaloosa fought in the Confederate armies during the Civil War. During the last part of the war, a crew of Union troops raiding the city burned the campus of the University of Alabama. After the Civil War, Presbyterians founded Stillman College, one of the leading traditionally black colleges in the South. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a system of locks and dams on the Black Warrior River in the 1890s, which opened up an inexpensive link to the Gulf seaport of Mobile, stimulating especially the mining and metallurgical industries of the region. The growth of the University and the mental health care facilities in the city fueled a steady growth in Tuscaloosa in the 20th century. The city is now the center of industry, commerce, health care and education for the region commonly known as West Alabama. The municipal airport of Tuscaloosa is Van de Graff Field. Robert Jemison Van de Graaff, American physicist and inventor of the Van de Graaff generator, was born in Tuscaloosa in 1901. His boyhood home, the Van de Graaff Mansion, still stands. The city is sometimes called the "Druid City" because of the many large old oak trees. In 1916, the Druid City Infirmary opened with 10 beds. It eventually grew into the DCH Regional Medical Center. As a college and university town, Tuscaloosa has a wide representation of museums. The Alabama Museum of Natural History on the UA campus has the Hodges Meteorite, the only meteorite known to have struck a human being. Also on campus is the Children's Hands-On Museum, first opened in 1986. The Paul W. Bryant Museum honors UA's legendary football coach. The Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art is located near the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa. The Arts Council of Tuscaloosa provides grants to support artistic undertakings in the Tuscaloosa area.