Days Gone By - stories from the past

Do you know how many people attended the first Iron Bowl game in 1893?

How many people attended the first Iron Bowl Game?

I have found two different accounts with widely contrasting numbers as to how many attended the 1st Iron Bowl game in Birmingham. One gives an estimate of 450 and another says there were 5000. I would love to know the correct number.

We do know that the game between the University of Alabama and Auburn took place in Birmingham’s Lakeview Baseball Park on Feb. 22, 1893, at 3:30 p.m. That historic game saw Auburn walk away with a 32-22 victory. Little did the handful of football fans realize what would develop from the first encounter. The players were even treated to special meals at their hotels and most traveled by train to the game.


The First Alabama-vs-Auburn Football Game in Birmingham, Lakeview Baseball Park, February 22, 1893 (by John Horgan, Jr., Special Collections and Archives, Auburn University Libraries)

Auburn Won

Auburn beat Alabama 32-22 on February 22, 1893, before five-thousand fans at Lakeview Park in Birmingham, in the first football game between the two schools.  R.T. Dorsey scored three touchdowns and Tom Daniels two for the Tigers.  This picture (above), taken during the first half by photographer John Horgan, Jr., shows Auburn in its flying wedge formation.  The teams met a second time that year, on November 30 at Riverside Park in Montgomery, and Auburn won 40-16. (Auburn Univ. Digital Library)

On December 2, 1893, the New York Times, declared the flying wedge formation pitted “a half ton of bone and muscle, against a man weighing 160 or 170 pounds. The University of Alabama had two brutal plays, the revolving wedge”, a wedge with a feint, and the turtleback wedge, formed by players holding each other’s hips.” 1

Birmingham view includes Lakeview Park

birmingham view - includes lakeview park

From the time of the series’ conception until a 6-6 tie in 1907, Auburn dominated, winning seven of 11 games.

The early years were highlighted by intense, hard-nosed football, promoting the traditional reasons the rivalry became so popular and important to football fans in this state. More than 100 years later, the game would become the state’s great divider.

Lakeview Park was located at the intersection of Highland and Clairmont Avenues

Lakeview Park was a park in the Lakeview suburb of Birmingham located at the intersection of Highland and Clairmont Avenues. The 43-acre park was laid out in 1884 by the Elyton Land Company around a man-made lake which was created by damming up springs in the area. Various events occurred in the park, including opera performances on an island in the lake. The park was accessible by the streetcar system that ran along Highland Avenue.

One popular attraction at the park was the Lakeview Pavilion, which contained a swimming pool, skating rink, bowling alley, and dance floor. A hotel was built at the park in 1887, which was visited by Presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. The Lakeview Theatre, a covered stage for open-air concerts and performances, opened in November 1890 with a performance by Mrs. General Tom Thumb and her Japanese Troupe.

Lakeview Postcard ca. 1907

Lakeview Park was the center of many events

The Summer of 1891 featured a lavish performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H. M. S. Pinafore” staged on a replica ship floating in the lake, which was surrounded by electric lights. Later seasons fell short of that early high mark. The Alcazar Opera Company took the stage in 1895. Promoters advertised additional security for unescorted ladies during the1896 season headlined by Trilby O’Farrell. In 1897 the theater hosted the Albert Taylor Company and a demonstration of Thomas Edison’s Vitascope (invented two years earlier by Charles Jenkins and Thomas Armat, but marketed by the Edison Company). In 1901 the Elite Opera Company began performing at the park.

Lakeview Lake

Baseball park 

The park also was home the Lakeview Baseball Park which hosted a number of events. Arguably, the most important event that occurred at Lakeview Park was the first football game between the University of Alabama and Auburn University, which occurred on February 22, 1893. The next time the Iron Bowl was played in Birmingham was in 1902, after Lakeview Park closed.

Side Note: Lakeview Lake, now on the Highland Park Golf Course, was the site of one of the most heinous murders in Birmingham history. Here the body of Mrs. Hawes was found. The so-called “Hawes Horrors” earned the Magic City unwanted national press. On December 8, 1888, the bodies of Emma Hawes and her daughter Irene were found bound in chains at the bottom of the lake. Richard Hawes, already in custody for the death of his wife, became the target of a lynch mob at the Jefferson County Jail.

East Lake Park drew patrons

Eventually, the hotel lost patrons as they went to visit the East Lake Park. The hotel closed and became the Southern Female Institute, which burned a year later.  The Lakeview entertainment district retains the name of the park in the area. A section of the former baseball field was preserved as a grassy corner outside the Compass Bank operations center, with a historical marker describing the first Iron Bowl there.AlabamaAuburn1893

Today, Lakeview Park is no longer there. But you can find a historical marker of the first Alabama vs. Auburn football game in front of a BBVA Compass administrative building.

1Shot in Alabama: A History of Photography, 1839-1941, and a List of photographers, Frances Osborn Robb, University of Alabama Press, Jan 10, 2017

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. […] football season. The team was led by head coach E. B. Beaumont and played their home games at Lakeview Park in Birmingham, […]

  2. I was there. Auburn cheated!

  3. […] in 1892. The first Iron Bowl Game between the University of Alabama and Auburn took place at Lakeview Park in Birmingham on February 22, 1893. Auburn walk away with a 32-22 […]

  4. In Birmingham on 7th st south a historic marker 1893 Alabama played auburn one of games if not the first game . Bank is there now

    1. Yes, we noted that in the article with a picture of the marker

  5. I am sure these two old fossills Vern & Gary were there,

  6. […] and Auburn have met in the Iron Bowl for so many years that we may not realize that the two colleges refused to meet on the gridiron for […]

  7. I don’t know, but I do know I love my Auburn Tigers, and I BELIEVE!

  8. Played at Avondale Springs Park

  9. Compass bank operation center on 7th Ave and 32nd . First game. No clue on attendance


  11. Sounds like a good question to ask the Bryant Museum. Either Ken Gaddy or Taylor Watson would be good ones to ask


  13. Were you there Joe?!? Is this a trick question?

  14. Charles Woosley was there ask him..

  15. Alabama players William Walker quarterback was my great uncle , so too MP Mitchell Porter Walker , and Hugh Morrow a cousin

  16. The site is located at Clairmont ave.and 32nd st south.

  17. And do you know where t was played? I do

    1. Steve Kennedy I’ve driven past it many times

    2. Dan Faverio I mean were you at the first Aub/AL game?

    3. Oh hell yes, I’m old as dirt

    4. Looking pretty good for your boys right about now

    5. Steve Kennedy awesome

    6. W.O.W. Auburn v Wisconsin for the national championship?

  18. Before they built the bank building you could kinda see the layout of the field.

  19. For many years, I thought that the game was played in Lakeview Park (now buried under various medical buildings, etc.); even the plaque memorializing the game was posted there, on one of the entrance columns of the park. We saw it daily as we entered the park for recess (Lakeview Elementary, now a lawyer’s office building … I think, was across 28th Street from the park).

    1. That was a cool park. Your the first person I’ve seen mention the school or the park in years.

    2. Frank Hopkins: I grew up 2 blocks from the school. I have pictures of the oark, the school, the library in the school, etc. from the early to late 60s.

    3. I was there in 77-79 I’d like to see the pictures one day.

    4. I have them digitalized. I’ll send them to you. Where did you live back then?

    5. I lived in east lake but went to school there. Can’t remember how or why. I’ll have to ask my mother.

    6. Every time I go to st Vincent’s. I try to picture where the tunnel under the street was, and the old stone building in the park.

  20. There on Clairmont Ave by the Pig , at least that is what I believe to be true. Anymore thoughts out there?

  21. Saved aas a favorite, I realy like your site!

  22. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to death at work soo I decided to
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  23. I have a photo of the 1908 Alabama Football Team with my Granddad, Richard Cain of Jasper, in the front row. Sorry I can’t post photos here.

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