Pickett Springs

The Salvation Army's Fresh Air Encampment at Pickett Springs in 1908 (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

For about three decades in the late 19th century, Pickett Springs was the place people in Montgomery went to "get away".  The Western Railroad of Alabama bought the plantation formerly owned by Albert Pickett's father-in-law and turned it into a park and resort that would tempt people to ride their rails.  Automobiles and movie theaters led to the decline of places like Pickett Springs, and about a decade into the 20th century the Salvation Army began using the site as a camp for the homeless.  The outbreak of World War I led to the site's transformation into Camp Sheridan, which we'll look at in a later post.

Pickett Springs historical marker side 1, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Pickett Springs

Railroad building and amusement park development flourished in the post-bellum South. In 1880s, Western Railroad of Alabama opened Pickett Springs on site of William Harris’s plantation, “Forest Farm”. Harris’s daughter, Sarah, married A.J. Pickett, Alabama’s first historian, and they had their home here until Pickett’s death in 1858. Pickett Springs occupied portion of land as community of Chisholm developed nearby. During World War I Camp Sheridan, infantry training ground, supplanted the old park. During 1920s, West Boylston Manufacturing opened large cotton mill and a residential village in the vicinity.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1999

Pickett Springs historical marker side 2, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Best Public Resort

In September, 1886, Montgomery Advertiser noted Pickett Springs as the “best public resort”. Located four miles north of Montgomery, park offered entertainment and relaxation for citizens who traveled out by train until 1902 when street railway service started. Included in the area were a dance pavilion, refreshment stand, bowling alley, shooting gallery, carousel, flying swing, billiard parlor, scenic car and roller coaster. During summers in early 20th century, Salvation Army conducted fresh-air camps for indigent people. By World War I, Pickett Springs had lost much of its aura as automobiles and movies offered their diversions.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1999

Site of Pickett Springs historical marker side, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama