Brookside, Alabama

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Brookside, Alabama
Location in Jefferson County and the state of Alabama
Location in Jefferson County and the state of Alabama
Coordinates: 33°37′54″N 86°54′47″W / 33.63167°N 86.91306°W / 33.63167; -86.91306
Country United States
State Alabama
County Jefferson
 • Total 6 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Land 6 sq mi (15.5 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 361 ft (110 m)
Population (2013)[1]
 • Total 1,343
 • Density 232.2/sq mi (89.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 35036
Area code(s) 205
FIPS code 01-09736
GNIS feature ID 0114968
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Brookside (erected 1916, renovated 1965)

Brookside is a former mining town, predominantly settled by Eastern European immigrants, located in north-central Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,828. The mayor is Roger McCondiche.


The Brookside mine was opened in 1886 by the Coalburg Coal and Coke Company. It was purchased one year later by the Sloss Iron and Steel Company as a source of fuel for their blast furnaces in Birmingham. Following the practice of the time, the mined coal was processed into coke in rows of beehive ovens banked into the hillside below the mine opening. In 1897 a Robinson-Ramsey Coal Washer was installed, increasing the efficiency of coke burning and therefore the overall efficiency of the mine. Other advanced equipment was also installed at Brookside, placing it at the forefront of mining technology in the Birmingham District at the turn of the century.

Brookside served as the headquarters for four Sloss-owned mines in the immediate area (Cardiff, Coalburg, Brazil and Brookside). Because the capacity of Brookside's processing equipment exceeded the mine output, some of the slack from the Brazil mine was brought to Brookside for washing and coking.

Brookside was incorporated in 1898. The descriptive name Brookside stems from the Five-Mile creek that flows through the town.

Sloss, like other employers in the booming industrial expansion of the early 20th century, had difficulty recruiting skilled labor. Recruitment efforts extended internationally and Brookside became the home of many Czechoslovakian immigrants and their families who made their way to the mines. As Brookside became a destination for Eastern European miners in the area, the culture of the town reflected their ethnic traditions. A Russian Orthodox church was founded and served to strengthen community ties. This church was one of the first Russian Orthodox churches built south of the Mason-Dixon. Unlike other mines where skilled whites and unskilled blacks could be played against each other by the owners, the Brookside miners were tightly organized and carried out a successful (albeit violent) strike in 1906.

Between 1910 and 1920, mining operations jumped around to several seams and the number of miners fluctuated between a low of 54 in 1910 and a high of over 600 in 1914. In 1913 the mechanical coal cutters used previously were supplanted by hand picks. A new church building for St. Nicholas was completed in 1916. The 1920 Alabama coal strike, combined with a global depreciation in the coal market, led to a shutdown of the mine. When the strike was settled in 1921, Brookside mine was never re-opened.

In 1924, Brookside served as one of the settings for the Famous Players-Lasky's 1925 feature film Coming Through, which was based on Jack Bethea's novel Bed Rock. Silent film stars Thomas Meighan, Lila Lee and Wallace Beery stayed with local families during production. (Jones-2007)

Sloss removed all of the surface works and held on to the mine property. In 1952 Sloss merged with the U. S. Pipe and Foundry Company, a subsidiary of Jim Walter Industries since 1969.

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church[edit]

Brookside remains a small town with a distinct Eastern European flavor. Founded in 1894, its onion dome church was re-faced with brick in 1965 and still holds services for approximately 70 congregants. The “Annual Russian/Slavic Food Festival,” observed the first full weekend of each November, brings visitors to tour the temple, see traditional Eastern European dances, and sample time-honored ethnic plate lunches and baked goods prepared by the Sisterhood of Saint Olga.


Brookside is located at 33°37′55″N 86°54′47″W / 33.63194°N 86.91306°W / 33.63194; -86.91306 (33.631867, -86.913068).[2] It lies along the banks of Five Mile Creek, a tributary of the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River, in the southern end of the Cumberland Plateau.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.0 square miles (16 km2), of which 6.0 square miles (16 km2) are land and 0.17% is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 380
1900 658 73.2%
1910 623 −5.3%
1920 668 7.2%
1930 466 −30.2%
1940 714 53.2%
1950 733 2.7%
1960 999 36.3%
1970 990 −0.9%
1980 1,409 42.3%
1990 1,365 −3.1%
2000 1,393 2.1%
2010 1,363 −2.2%
Est. 2013 1,343 −1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[3]
2013 Estimate[4]

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,393 people, 546 households, and 393 families residing in the town. The population density was 232.8 people per square mile (89.9/km2). There were 613 housing units at an average density of 102.4 per square mile (39.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 90.52% White, 8.69% Black or African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.14% from other races, and 0.29% from two or more races. 0.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 546 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $29,792, and the median income for a family was $34,821. Males had a median income of $30,900 versus $21,563 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,242. About 14.7% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.6% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.


  1. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  3. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  • Historic American Engineering Record. "Brookside Coal Mine (Sloss Sheffield Coal & Iron Coal Mine). Birmingham Industrial District. Photographs. Drawings. Written Historical & Descriptive Data. Spring 1993. HAER Survey No. AL-17. [1]
  • Lewis, W. David (1994). Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birmingham District: An Industrial Epic. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Univ. of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-0708-7. 
  • White, Marjorie Longenecker (1998). The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide. Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Historical Society. ISBN 0-943994-00-4. 
  • Simon, Staci S. (1997). A Study of the Slovak Community at Brookside, Alabama, M.A. Thesis, University of Alabama at Birmingham. 
  • Jones, Pam (Summer 2007) "A "Wild West" Town in Alabama: Brookside." Alabama Heritage. No. 85, pp. 26–37

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°37′55″N 86°54′47″W / 33.631867°N 86.913068°W / 33.631867; -86.913068