Winston County population is 24,484. Its county seat is Double Springs. Known as Hancock County before 1858, the county is named in honor of John A. Winston, the fifteenth Governor of Alabama.
During the American Civil War, Winston County gained attention for its opposition to secession, a sentiment so strong that the county is sometimes referred to as the Free State of Winston. The county today plays on its reputation as the “Free State of Winston” to attract tourists. The county’s opposition to the Confederacy is briefly mentioned in the novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Addie Pray.
In 1883, the county seat was moved from Houston to Double Springs to be near the center of the county, since Cullman County was created from the eastern part of Winston County.
Comprising 614 square miles, Winston County is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in northwest Alabama. It is part of the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section, and its terrain varies from low, rolling hills covered with evergreens to spectacular gorges, rock bluffs, and hardwood forests. Much of Winston County sits on the Warrior Coal Field, and the county’s soils are a mixture of plateau and coastal soils.
The Black Warrior River and its tributaries flow throughout Winston County. Tributaries of both the Mulberry Fork and the Sipsey Fork flow through the county. Although the species diversity of the Mulberry Fork is relatively low compared with other water systems in the state, the Sipsey Fork is home to nearly 80 species of fish and is Alabama’s only National Wild and Scenic River System. A large portion of Winston County is part of the William B. Bankhead National Forest, offering scenic views and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Winston County’s main transportation route is U.S. Highway 278, which runs east-west through the middle of the county. The county has two airports: Double Springs-Winston County Airport and Posey Field, located in Kinlock Spring.