Historic Markers Across Alabama

Welcome to Downtown Cahawba

Marker ID:  
Location: in the Cahawba Archaeological Park (nominal fee required), 9518 Cahaba Rd, Orrville, AL
County: Dallas
Coordinates: N 32° 19.048    W 087° 5.796
  32.31746666    -87.0966
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Welcome to Downtown Cahawba

Cahawba's homes were spread over an entire square mile, many with yards of one or two acres. That was not the case here on Vine Street. Offices, stores and hotels were tightly packed along this main street. The steamboat landings on the Alabama River were just one block away, so this was prime real estate.

Vine Street was 80 feet wide with brick sidewalks. A town ordinance required all lot owners to plant shade trees between the sidewalks and the road.

This photograph, taken about 1900, recorded a few remaining but abandoned structures along Vine Street:

A. Law Offices.

B. Saltmarsh Hall, where public celebrations were held.

C. Dallas County Courthouse with its spectacle-shaped windows.

D. Dallas County Office Building.

E. Overflowing Well in the center of the street.

A Well for Public Use

An overflowing well was drilled in the center of Cahawba's main street for public use. During the Civil War, it provided running water to thousands of prisoners of war held captive in a nearby warehouse.

Unfortunately the ornamental well head disappeared decades ago, but the observant explorer can still find the location of the old well. Just look for the broken round iron pipe in the surface of the road near the intersection of Vine and First North Streets.

Chinaberry Trees - Clues to the Past
Cahawba's earliest merchants imported fast growing Chinaberry trees to shade their sidewalks. Over the years these trees survived and multiplied. Sadly, Cahawba's merchants did not do as well. Today, as you walk this abandoned downtown street, see if you can spot the thriving descendants of those first Chinaberry trees.

2015 by the Alabama Historical Commission.

Photographs of the marker can be found on HMDB.org

End of Welcome to Downtown Cahawba