Opelika is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama.
Opelika Alabama History
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as “Opelika.” This word taken from the Muskogee language means “large swamp”.
Soon after the end of the war, the Alabama state legislature created a new county out of parts of Macon, Russell, Chambers, and Tallapoosa counties to be named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee. In 1866, citizens of the new “Lee County” voted Opelika as the county seat. The town was technically unincorporated after having its charter revoked for abetting the rebellion against the United States.
After Opelika received a new charter in 1870, rapid growth resumed. The town nearly doubled in size between 1870 and 1900. During this time, Opelika began to gain a reputation as a wild, lawless town. Soon after receiving the new charter, city officials attempted to scam outside investors by issuing fake railroad bonds. For this, the town’s charter was revoked again in 1872, and the town was administered as a police district by the state legislature for the following year.
Opelika’s downtown was packed with saloons catering to railroad workers and other men. Frequent gunfire in the street by intoxicated patrons resulted in railroads directing their passengers to duck beneath the windows when their trains passed through the town.
In 1882, two factions claimed to rule the city government, one known as the “Bar room” headed by Mayor Dunbar, a saloon keeper, and another known as the “Citizens”. There was a riot in late November-December of that year, in which a dozen men were wounded. In the end a couple were killed. The Citizens had claimed control of the city via the elections, but Dunbar refused to give up. After continued violence, the state legislature revoked the city’s charter and the governor sent in the militia to restore order. The legislature appointed five commissioners to manage the city,a situation that continued until 1899. That year the legislature restored the city’s charter.
Opelika Alabama Today
Historic Downtown Opelika has had an urban design revitalization in association with the national Main Street, Inc. program. With a compact historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Downtown Opelika has attracted a variety of specialty shops, galleries, antique stores and restaurants.
Opelika’s attention is now focused on technology, becoming the first city in Alabama to deploy a 100% fiber network that offers GIG internet speeds. Opelika, Alabama joins only a handful of other American cities that have deployed similar networks. Opelika combines hometown business with advanced technology infrastructure. The town once known for its railroad now has a new “locomotive”, the lightning fast internet speeds.
Opelika is the only “Smart City” in the state of Alabama, and one of the few in the nation to offer such cutting edge internet services to its citizens and its businesses.
Opelika Alabama Links
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Wikipedia contributors, “Opelika, Alabama,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Opelika,_Alabama&oldid=772498829 (accessed April 16, 2017).