Phil Campbell, Alabama

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Phil Campbell, Alabama
Location in Franklin County and the state of Alabama
Location in Franklin County and the state of Alabama
Coordinates: 34°21′5″N 87°42′27″W / 34.35139°N 87.70750°W / 34.35139; -87.70750Coordinates: 34°21′5″N 87°42′27″W / 34.35139°N 87.70750°W / 34.35139; -87.70750
Country United States
State Alabama
County Franklin
 • Total 4.1 sq mi (10.6 km2)
 • Land 4.1 sq mi (10.6 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,040 ft (317 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 1,091
 • Density 266.1/sq mi (102.9/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 35581
Area code(s) 205
FIPS code 01-59496
GNIS feature ID 0124673

Phil Campbell is a town in Franklin County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 1,091.


Phil Campbell is located at 34°21′05″N 87°42′27″W / 34.351505°N 87.707414°W / 34.351505; -87.707414.[1]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.1 square miles (11 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 418
1930 472 12.9%
1940 533 12.9%
1950 469 −12.0%
1960 898 91.5%
1970 1,230 37.0%
1980 1,549 25.9%
1990 1,317 −15.0%
2000 1,091 −17.2%
2010 1,148 5.2%
Est. 2013 1,189 3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[2]
2013 Estimate[3]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 1,091 people, 458 households, and 317 families residing in the town. The population density was 267.4 people per square mile (103.2/km²). There were 535 housing units at an average density of 131.1 per square mile (50.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.99% White, 0.27% Native American, 0.18% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. 0.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 458 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.4% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $24,598, and the median income for a family was $30,221. Males had a median income of $24,219 versus $17,316 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,053. About 14.2% of families and 20.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.9% of those under age 18 and 19.2% of those age 65 or over.

Town history[edit]

In the 1880s, a railroad work crew leader and engineer by the name of Phillip Campbell (originally from England) established a work camp near the location of modern Phil Campbell. Mel Allen, a prominent local businessman, told Campbell if he would construct a railroad depot and add a side track to the stretch of railroad going through the area, he would name the subsequent town after Campbell. Campbell built both the depot and siding, which led to Phil Campbell being the only town in Alabama to have both the first and last names of an individual.

In June 1995 the writer Phil Campbell organized and wrote about a convention of people who shared their name with the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama. Twenty-two Phil Campbells and one Phyllis Campbell, hailing from all over America, attended. The story of the Phil Campbell convention was published in Might Magazine, a San-Francisco-based publication founded by Dave Eggers. The essay was later included in Might’s anthology, Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp, and the convention itself was mentioned by Ripley's Believe it or Not! A second “Phil Campbell Day” was organized the following year, but it was not as well attended. Phil Campbell’s city hall, however, still maintains a file of all the Phil Campbells who visit.[5]


EF5 damage from the April 2011 tornado

On April 27, 2011, the town suffered extensive damage from a very large and swift moving tornado. The tornado was classified as an EF-5 with 210 mph winds. The tornado damaged many buildings in and around the main part of town. Twenty-seven people lost their lives.[5] A reporter stated that the town may never be able to recover from the tornado because the damage was so extensive. Phil Campbell of Brooklyn, New York, the organizer of the original Phil Campbell Convention, had been planning another convention that June. However, after the tornado he decided to turn the convention into a relief effort. He organized the Phil Campbells of the world to unite under the banner of I'm with Phil. He set up a website for people to donate money to help repair houses in two areas of the town in addition to assisting in the repair of the high school and city hall. The members of the convention later traveled to the town to assist the local community in rebuilding.[6] Andrew Reed, a resident of the town, directed a documentary about the Phil Campbells' relief effort called I'm With Phil.

The town had also been affected by an F5 tornado on April 3, 1974.

Town council[edit]

The members of the city council are: Danny Brown, Lynn Landers, Roy Nagle, Eddie Barton, and Jim Cartee. The Mayor of Phil Campbell is Steve Bell.

Phil Campbell High School[edit]

The first school in Phil Campbell was a two story frame building constructed in 1910. It was located at the back of the Phil Campbell Methodist Church. The school was subsequently destroyed by fire.

The second school was constructed in 1915 and was located at the site of the present school on Alabama State Route 13 in Phil Campbell. This school was a small wooden building. Like the previous school, this school was also destroyed by fire. The fire began at six o'clock in the evening on Christmas Day, 1924.

During the next two years, school was held in local church buildings, the town's former bank building, and the U.S. Post Office building located near the railroad.

Graduation services for the first accredited Phil Campbell High School class were conducted in the Phil Campbell Methodist Church. The year was 1926 and the class had nine[7] graduating members including Violet Mae Hurst

The third Phil Campbell school was completed in 1926. There were two buildings, a main classroom building and a vocational school. After the main building was destroyed by fire in 1954, the present school buildings were constructed.

After the 2011 tornado, the high school was torn down and the new school was finished in September 2014.

Local features[edit]

The town was incorporated in 1911, 15 years after it was founded.[8] Highlights of the downtown district include the Chat 'n' Chew restaurant and Mrs D's. Other businesses include a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, H&R Block, and Dollar General. The town has a total of three traffic lights.[5]

Every summer Phil Campbell hosts an annual celebration, the Downtown Hoedown (formerly Phil Campbell Day). During this celebration there are carnival rides, car shows, and arts-and-crafts items for sale. Local bands and singers perform during the evening. Beginning in 2010, there was a 5k road race called the Hoedown Hustle (in 2013 renamed the Judy James Memorial, a benefit for pancreatic cancer) 5k and a 1-mile fun run.

The town is home to a campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College (the state's first junior college). Before Christmas every year, students from NWSCC perform The Legend of Toyland. This is a live choreographed performance set to pre-recorded narration. Schools from surrounding counties bring students to watch the entertaining performance that has been running for over 25 years. Lanny McAlister (music director at NWSCC) is credited for the creation of the production as well as directing it all these years.

Phil Campbell is also home to Dismals Canyon, a privately owned, natural conservatory that has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Dismals Canyon features a natural swimming pool, natural shelters used by various Native American tribes for over 10,000 years, nature trails, rare luminous insects, and natural rock formations.

Notable natives[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Carol Stream, Illinois – one of three municipalities in the United States with the first and last name of a person as its name
  • Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania – one of three municipalities in the United States with the first and last name of a person as its name


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b c Kim Severson (18 June 2011). "Phil Campbells Congregate in the Town of Phil Campbell". New York Times (PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala). 
  6. ^ "Scot Phil Campbell helps rebuild US namesake town". BBC News. May 31, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  7. ^ Photograph of Graduating Class
  8. ^ Hiatt, Grant. Encyclopedia of Alabama Retrieved 2015-04-19.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]