Southside is located on Alabama Highway 77
along the south side of the Coosa River. The city of Southside is known as a
bedroom community and has miles of river and lakeshores.
Southside was first settled
in 1850. Southside began as a small rural community with townships such as
Green Valley, Cedar Bend, and Pilgrims Rest. The communities banded together
to form the town of Southside.
Southside’s dominant source of income was farming. Green
Valley was the early center of Southside’s industry. The grist mill,
blacksmith, and the sorghum mill were located there. Southside’s cotton gin
was located at Brannon Springs and Highway 77.
Southside is sometimes referred to as “Smokeneck.” Many
stories offer an explanation for the name. One legend passed down through
time is that early settlers, possibly Creek Indians, who once lived in the
area, made charcoal by burning old pine stumps. The burning gave rise to a
great deal of black smoke. The smoke would settle on the collars and necks
of the Creek Indians, leaving a black smoke ring or a “smokeneck.”
Southside was the first city in Etowah County, outside of
Gadsden, to have a telephone system; The Cedar Bend Telephone Company. The
first post office in the area was in Markton, a nearby community now called
Green Valley. Later another post office was built in Cedar Bend.
Electric lights came to Southside in 1931 and in 1957 the
city received its own water system.
Ferries were a big part of Southside’s
history because of the need to travel across the
river into Gadsden and other areas. Gilbert’s Ferry, the largest ferry, was
used until 1939. Lister’s Ferry traveled to Rainbow City, Fowler’s Ferry
traveled from Pilgrims Rest to Whorton’s Bend, and the McCartney’s Ferry
made its journey to Riddles Bend.
According to several articles, the Southside Bridge, then
called Gilbert’s Ferry Bridge was opened on June 17, 1939. The bridge was
864 feet in length with sixteen 27 foot pans, one swing span 232 feet in
length, and one fixed span 200 feet long. The bridge was supported with
three concrete piers with the foundations resting on solid rock.
Schools have been a strong part of the
history of Southside. The first school in
Southside was Burns Academy. In 1923 the name was changed to Southside
School and became a part of the Etowah County School System. In 1944
Southside School was completely destroyed by fire. In 1948 the first unit of
the new school was completed. In 1956, Southside had the smallest high
school in the county with only 411 students in grades one through twelve.
Southside Elementary School, built in 1979, educates students from
kindergarten through fifth grade. Grades six through eight attend Rainbow
Middle School in Rainbow City.
Southside is now home to the largest school in Etowah
County. In January 2007 the doors of the new Southside High School were
opened with 719 students being enrolled. Southside Elementary School has a
student enrollment of 602.
The City of Southside was incorporated in 1957. The
estimated population at that time was 535. Southside has experienced rapid
growth in recent years and the population is now estimated at 7838.