Most People have Forgotten About This Abandoned Place in Alabama

Alabama boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and enigmatic allure, epitomized by the Old Rock Jail, also known as the Coosa County Jail. Nestled in Rockford, this imposing structure stands as a testament to bygone eras, drawing visitors with its captivating past. Let’s delve into the narrative of this remarkable edifice, exploring its history, architecture, and the legends that shroud it, making it a must-visit for those intrigued by Alabama’s heritage.

The Origins of the Jail

Constructed in 1839, shortly after the establishment of Coosa County, the Old Rock Jail was born out of necessity, providing a robust solution for housing the region’s offenders. Crafted from locally sourced stones, some as thick as three feet, its three stories housed a jailer’s residence on the ground floor, with male and female cells on the upper levels. Beneath lay a dungeon reserved for the most dangerous inmates, ensuring formidable security with iron bars, heavy doors, and vigilant oversight from a guard tower.

The Role of the Jail in Alabama’s History

Throughout its existence, the Old Rock Jail bore witness to pivotal moments in Alabama’s narrative:

  • It hosted Coosa County’s first hanging in 1842, marking a somber milestone.
  • During the Civil War, it served as a Union prisoner-of-war facility, with the names of fallen soldiers etched into its walls.
  • In the era of Reconstruction, it became a bastion of hope as headquarters for the Freedmen’s Bureau, aiding newly emancipated individuals.
  • During Prohibition, it safeguarded confiscated contraband, embodying the tumultuous times.
  • Amidst the Great Depression, it provided solace as a shelter for the homeless, offering a glimmer of support amidst adversity.

Notable figures such as William B. Bankhead, Zora Neale Hurston, and Hank Williams found themselves entwined with the jail’s narrative, adding layers to its storied history.

The Legacy of the Jail Today

Today, the Old Rock Jail stands as a revered landmark, enshrined in the Alabama and National Registers of Historic Places. As a museum, it invites visitors to step back in time, with original cells, artifacts, and graffiti preserving the echoes of its past. Guided tours and educational programs offer insights into its rich heritage, while cherished relics like the Old Rock Jail Bell and Key serve as poignant reminders of its legacy.


The Old Rock Jail isn’t merely a structure; it’s a living embodiment of Alabama’s essence. From its earliest days to the present, it continues to captivate, educate, and intrigue. As William B. Bankhead remarked, it stands as a testament to the courage and character of its people, beckoning all to discover its secrets and stories. It’s a journey through time, a tribute to resilience, and a destination worthy of exploration. Visit, and unlock the mysteries that lie within its weathered walls.

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