Days Gone By - stories from the past

Did you know about these Alabama firsts? [see pics]- Skeleton of pre-historic man found in cave, 1st trolley & 1st human rocket

Did you know……?

“The world’s first Electric Trolley System was introduced in Montgomery in 1886.”

Below: A busy street in Montgomery in the mid-1880s. The city was the first in the nation to have an electric streetcar system; two of those cars are pictured here.
Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History

Courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History

By the 1880s, Montgomery had wholeheartedly embraced new technology and ushered in an era of modernization. In 1886, the city gained fame as the home of the very first electric streetcar system in the Western Hemisphere. A major railroad hub for Central Alabama and its river traffic, Montgomery became the wholesale district for the region. By now a city of more than 17,000, the city boasted cotton brokerages, warehouses, large commercial banks, metal manufacturing, dry goods industries, lumbering, textile mills, and breweries.

Dexter Avenue and the Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama showing electric streetcars

Dexter Avenue and the Capitol, Montgomery, Ala. showing electric streetcars
Dexter Avenue and the Capitol, Montgomery, Ala. showing electric streetcars

“Alabama workers built the first rocket to put humans on the moon.”


When Dr. Wernher von Braun arrived in 1950 in the tiny Alabama town which called itself the “Watercress Capital of the World,” Huntsville boasted a population of 15,000. Today, it is forged forever in history as the place where America’s space program was born; where the rockets were developed that put the first U.S. satellite into orbit and sent men to the moon; where the power for today’s space shuttle was developed; where the modules for the International Space Station were designed and built; and where America’s next great ship – the Space Launch System – is being designed.

During the final months that von Braun and his team of scientists were refining the giant rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon, he was also preparing to launch another important project: a permanent exhibit to showcase the hardware of the space program. Von Braun was director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville when he approached the Alabama Legislature with the idea of creating a museum jointly with the U.S. Army Missile Command and NASA. After Alabama lawmakers and its citizens voted in 1968 to finance construction, the U.S. Army donated land on its Redstone Arsenal, which is also the site of the sprawling NASA center, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® was born.

“A skeleton of a pre-historic man was found in Russell Cave in Alabama.”


Since the first excavation here in 1953, it has been thought that the cave was used in winter by people who in warmer months moved to villages along the Tennessee River. But the evidence is not conclusive, and it seems likely that some groups used it as a permanent home, perhaps for years at a time. Others did use it as winter quarters, while for year-round nomads it was simply a convenient stopover.

The archeological evidence does indicate that in the 1,000 years before European contact in the 16th century, the cave was used primarily as a hunting camp. Most groups inhabiting the cave would probably have numbered no more than 15 to 30-their size limited by the need for mobility and by how many people the land could sustain. They were likely extended families or several related families.

Certainly some groups would have used the cave year after year, but varying styles of spear and arrow points tell us that it was inhabited by different bands. Twenty-four burials have been found in the cave, ranging from an infant to a 40- to 50- year-old woman. From the remains it appears that these people were short and muscular. In appearance that probably resembled the peoples Europeans first encountered in the 16th century.


Check out genealogy and novels by Donna R. Causey

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past.  Now in paperback, makes a great gift!


Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past (Paperback)
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Vinegar of the Four Thieves: Recipes & Curious Tips from the Past (Paperback)

By (author):  Causey, Donna R

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About Donna R Causey

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. This was really interesting Thanks.

  2. Um wrong article description

  3. I love Alabama. Graduated from High School in Gadsden and Nursing school in Birmingham.

  4. The world’s first Electric Trolley System

    I remember this story from Alabama History when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade (60 years ago). First attempts at a new invention often need a little refining. The electricity ran through the rails! A man was riding his horse down town. When the horse’s metal shoes can in contact with rails, it was killed.

  5. Russell Cave in Colbert County.

  6. My great grandfather Henry Clay Mann was a driver on the “Lightning Route,” as the streetcar system was known in Montgomery. In this capacity he was credited with saving a life. A little girl, paying no attention, wandered onto the tracks right in front of his streetcar. Mr. Mann stopped the trolley immediately by “body checking” the brake hard enough that it could not be manually released. A mechanic had to come out and disassemble the brake mechanism to get the trolley moving.

  7. Let us not forget Mary Anderson Born

    February 19, 1866
    Greene County, Alabama
    June 27, 1953 (aged 87)
    Monteagle, Tennessee
    Real Estate Developer, rancher, viticulturist, Inventor
    Known for
    The Windshield Wiper (invented 1902, patented 1903)
    Mary Elizabeth Anderson (February 19, 1866 – June 27, 1953)[1] was an American real estate developer, rancher, viticulturist and inventor of the windshield wiper blade. On November 10, 1903 Anderson was granted her first patent[2] for an automatic car window cleaning device controlled from inside the car, called the windshield wiper

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