Opelika, Alabama

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Opelika is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the U.S. state of Alabama.[1] It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area.[2][3][4] According to 2009 Census estimates, the population of Opelika was 27,443.[5] The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 135,833 which, along with the Columbus, GA-AL MSA and the Tuskegee, AL µSA, comprises the greater Columbus-Auburn-Opelika, GA-AL CSA, a region home to approximately 500,000 residents.

Contents

History

The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebenon. After the removal of the native peoples by force in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika", taken from a word in the Muskogee language meaning "large swamp". Settlement was sporadic until the late 1840s, when Opelika quickly became a commercial center with the coming of the railroad.

In 1848, the Montgomery & West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama to Opelika, and in 1851 completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard, and rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery & West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.

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