Lake Jackson in Florala, AL
1909 Downtown Florala, AL
A small southern town near the Alabama-Florida state line, Florala, AL is rich in history. Following the Civil War many migrated to this area in Alabama and West Florida to take advantage of the inexpensive land, untapped forestry resources, cotton, and subsequent need for railroads, schools and goods for its population. Later the textile industry emerged. A number of Scots, came to this area near the turn of the century from their homeland in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Their ancestors came to Cumberland County from Scotland via the Cape Fear River. They eventually settled in Alabama as their prospects dimmed in the North Carolina sand hills and their families expanded. Thus many were “Tarheels” who sought to employ their skills in the lumber and naval stores business learned among the Carolina pines. Florala’s prosperity grew, and it became a bustling town. In 1900, the US Census of Florala lists a population of 300. In 1907, a city census shows a population of 2,021, an increase of nearly 700% in those 7 years. The population further increased to ca 3,500 in the subsequent years. A stately hotel and spacious homes with high pitched roofs and expansive porches were built, a number with distinctive turret features. Three railroads, routed South, East and North connected the town for commerce and pleasure travel.
Lake Jackson in Florala, AL
1900's Wagon Shop off 5th Ave Florala, AL

In time Florala’s growth faltered. The forest industry became less lucrative and the timber stands depleted, the Depression exacted its financial toll, and global forces eventually weakened the textile industry. Many of the youth left to join the war effort in the early 40's, many to Mobile to work in the shipyards and at Brookley Air Force base. But Florala has always had an ageless jewel, Lake Jackson. A body of water once thought to be the rising of an underground river, but now believed by geologists to have been born from the collapse of ancient limestone caves. Its a not-too-small and not-too-big lake (ca 500 acres) that exemplifies nature’s beauty when ample quantities of sand percolated water, Cypress trees, Spanish moss, and time merge. People living and working near its shores hoped and prayed for a good life and future for their community.

Lake Jackson in Florala, AL
Historic view from Lake Jackson

Lake Jackson (408 ac) was thought to be formed when deep limestone faults occurred that filled with water. The water caused dissolution of the limestone which created caverns. The caverns ultimately collapsed forming the “bowl” of the lake, the bottom of which filled with sediment. On average Lake Jackson is 12-14 ft deep. “More recent” collapses, actually many many years ago, formed two major deep depressions in the lake of 24-28 ft on the North and South sides. The lake is said to be fed almost entirely by rainwater. Since 1971 the shoreline has receded about 60 ft for a length of about 1000 ft on the Northwest side. Of interest is that Lake Jackson is in the Yellow River watershed (ie, its waters drain southeast into the Yellow River to Pensacola Bay). Just North of the lake, across 5th Ave, water drains in the opposite direction, Northeast, and ultimately into the Pea River. The area from Lakewood, FL (highest point in Florida East of Florala), 5th Ave West into Florala and 331 North from Florala, is a ridge that acts as watershed divide. This explains why the old city dump North of the lake never polluted the lake. Its waters drained Northeast away from the lake.

Lake Jackson in Florala, AL
1942 Postcard of Lake Jackson

Today, the world's oldest masonic celebration is held in the City of Florala. The week-long event takes place the last full week in June and is referred to by locals as the June 24th celebration. Events includes a bass tournament, horse shoe tournament, beauty contest, gospel sing, sock hop dance, street dance, 5K alligator trot, parade, antique car show, games for the children, carnival, old time heritage demonstration, fireworks, and arts and crafts in the park.

Within the quaint little City of Florala, one will find many antique shops, several Victorian-style mansions, two art galleries, The Lake House Bed & Breakfast for overnight lodging accommodations, a large family style buffet and restaurant specializing in Southern style family cooking. Within the Tri-City area, across the State line one can see the highest point of Florida at 345 feet above sea level.

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