Cullman, Alabama

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Cullman, Alabama
Buildings on 1st Avenue SE
Buildings on 1st Avenue SE
Motto: "A City of Character"
Location in Cullman County and the state of Alabama
Location in Cullman County and the state of Alabama
Cullman, Alabama is located in USA
Cullman, Alabama
Location in the United States
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Alabama
County Cullman
Settled 1873
Incorporated 1878
Founded by Colonel Johann Gottfried Cullmann
Named for Colonel Johann Gottfried Cullmann
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Total 20.6 sq mi (53.3 km2)
 • Land 19.4 sq mi (50.2 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2)
Elevation 898 ft (251 m)
Population (2013 est.)[1]
 • Total 15,030
 • Density 776/sq mi (299.5/km2)
Time zone Central Standard Time (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 35055-35058
Area code(s) 256
Mayor Max Townson
FIPS code 01-18976
GNIS feature ID 0116948

Cullman is a city in Cullman County, Alabama, United States. Cullman is located along Interstate 65, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Birmingham and about 55 miles (89 km) south of Huntsville. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 14,775,[2] with an estimated population of 15,030 in 2013.[1] Cullman is the seat of Cullman County.


In the time before European settlement, the area that today includes Cullman was originally in the territory of the Cherokee Nation. The region was traversed by a trail known as the Black Warrior's Path, which led from the Tennessee River near the present location of Florence, Alabama, to a point on the Black Warrior River south of Cullman. This trail figured significantly in Cherokee history, and it featured prominently in the American Indian Wars prior to the establishment of the state of Alabama and the relocation of several American Indian tribes, including the Creek people westward along the Trail of Tears. During the Creek War in 1813, General Andrew Jackson of the U.S. Army dispatched a contingent of troops down the trail, one of which included the frontiersman Davy Crockett.[3]

During the Civil War, the future location of Cullman was the site of the minor Battle of Day's Gap. On April 30, 1863, Union forces under the command of Colonel Abel Streight won a victory over forces under Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This battle was part of a campaign and chase known collectively as Streight's Raid. Although Streight got the upper hand in this battle, Forrest would have the last laugh. In one of the more humorous moments of the war, Streight sought a truce and negotiations with Forrest in present-day Cherokee County near present-day Gaylesville. Although Streight's force was larger than Forrest's, while the two were negotiating, Forrest had his troops march repeatedly in a circuitous route past the site of the talks. Thinking himself to be badly outnumbered, Streight surrendered to Forrest on the spot.[4]

Colonel John Cullmann, founder of Cullman (1823–1895)

Cullman itself was founded in 1873 by Colonel John G. Cullmann, a German refugee who had arrived in America in 1865. (The city's name was Americanized to "Cullman", although some sources state that Cullmann had earlier Americanized his name from "Kullmann". Stanley Johnson, his only surviving American descendant, told The Cullman Times in 1998 that there are no German records indicating the name "Kullmann", and that "Cullmann" had always been the correct spelling.)[5] Cullmann had been an advocate of democratic reforms in his native Bavaria, and he fled when the autocratic Prussian-dominated regime emerged ascendant after the Revolutions of 1848. In 1873, Cullmann negotiated an agreement to act as agent for a tract of land 349,000 acres (1,410 km2) in size, owned by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, on which he established a colony for German immigrants.[6][7]

Five German families moved to the area in March 1873; in 1874, the town was incorporated and named after Colonel Cullmann. Over the next twenty years, Cullmann encouraged around 100,000 Germans to immigrate to the United States, with many settling in the Cullman area. Cullmann drew on his military engineering training in laying out and planning the town. During this period, Cullman underwent considerable growth. German continued to be widely spoken, and Cullmann himself was the publisher of a German-language newspaper. When Cullmann died in 1895, at the age of 72, his funeral was marked by the attendance of Governor William C. Oates.[6] The site Cullmann selected for his headquarters is now his gravesite.

German immigrants also founded St Bernard's Monastery, on the grounds of which is the Ave Maria Grotto, containing 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous religious structures of the world. It's Cullman's principal tourist attraction.[8]

For many years Cullman was a college town, with Saint Bernard College serving as the home of several hundred students. In the mid-1970s, St. Bernard briefly merged with Sacred Heart College (a two-year Benedictine women’s college), to become Southern Benedictine College. That college closed in 1979, and it now operates as St. Bernard Preparatory School. The former site of Sacred Heart College is now the Sacred Heart Monastery, which serves as a retreat center operated by the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery.[9]

During the twentieth century, Cullman developed a more diverse economy, including several manufacturing and distribution facilities. However, its economy remains primarily based on agriculture and providing services to the agricultural workforce. Cullman County has the highest agricultural production in the state, and is one of the sixty largest agricultural-production counties in dollar terms in the United States.[10]

Cullman gained national attention in early 2008, when a special election was held to fill a vacancy in the Alabama House of Representatives. Although Cullman is known throughout the region as a former sundown town, the district that included Cullman elected James C. Fields, an African-American, in that special election.[11]

Cullman's German heritage was repressed during World War I and World War II, while the United States was fighting Germany. This was reversed in the 1970s, with renewed interest in the city's history and heritage. Today, Cullman holds an annual Oktoberfest.[12] An honorary "Bürgermeister" is elected for each Oktoberfest. For many years the Oktoberfest did not include alcohol because Cullman was dry, but starting in 2011 the Oktoberfest was able to offer beer.[13]

2011 tornado damage

Downtown was significantly damaged by an EF4 tornado during the April 2011 tornado outbreak. Hitting on April 27, it destroyed many buildings in downtown and in an east-side residential area, but causing no fatalities. The twister moved northeast towards Arab and Guntersville, killing two Cullman County residents and four or more others.[14]


Cullman is located on top of the Brindley Mountain plateau at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (34.177508, −86.844996).[15] This is a close offshoot of the long geographic ridge called Sand Mountain, a southmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains. The elevation is 826 feet (252 m), close to the watershed between the Tennessee River and the Black Warrior River. Cullman provides its own town water supply from a city-owned lake within the city limits, Lake Catoma.[citation needed]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.6 square miles (53.3 km2). 19.4 square miles (50.2 km2) of this is land, and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2), or 5.81%, is water.[2]


The Cullman City School System operates five schools:

Cullman Primary School (Pre-K – First Grade),
East Elementary (Second Grade – Sixth Grade),
West Elementary (Second Grade – Sixth Grade),
John G. Cullman Middle School (Seventh and Eighth Grades),
and Cullman High School (Ninth Grade – Twelfth Grade).[16]

Other schools in Cullman include:

Saint Bernard Preparatory School, a Benedictine boarding and day school (Ninth grade – Twelfth grade),
Saint Bernard Middle School (Seventh and Eighth Grade),
Sacred Heart Elementary School (Pre-K – Sixth Grade),
Saint Paul's Lutheran School (Pre-K – Sixth Grade),
and Cullman Christian School (Pre-K – Twelfth Grade).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 426
1890 1,017 138.7%
1900 1,255 23.4%
1910 2,130 69.7%
1920 2,467 15.8%
1930 2,786 12.9%
1940 5,074 82.1%
1950 7,523 48.3%
1960 10,853 44.3%
1970 12,601 16.1%
1980 13,084 3.8%
1990 13,367 2.2%
2000 13,995 4.7%
2010 14,775 5.6%
Est. 2014 15,145 [17] 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]
2013 Estimate[19]

The population density was 765.0 inhabitants per square mile (295.4/km2). There were 6,957 housing units at an average density of 365.1 per square mile (141.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.4% White, 0.01% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, and 1.1% from two or more races. 8.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2010, there were 14,775 people and 6,957 households, out of which 22.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 22.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,164, and the median income for a family was $41,313. Males had a median income of $32,863 versus $21,647 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,484. About 9.4% of families and 13.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.3% of those under age 18 and 18.5% of those age 65 or over.

Cullman was ranked among Bloomberg Businessweek's 50 Best Places to Raise Your Kids in 2012[20] based on the city's educational and economic factors, crime level, air quality, amenities, and ethnic diversity.


Radio stations



Cullman is in the TV broadcasting areas of Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama.

There are two low-power broadcasting stations in Cullman: WCQT-LP TV-27 and CATV-2. Cullman also has a PEG station, CCTV55, which is run by students at Cullman High School. CCTV55 was known as CATS-55 at one time.

Health care

  • Cullman Regional Medical Center – a 115-bed hospital


Sister city

Notable persons from Cullman


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Cullman has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[22]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Cullman city, Alabama". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved June 11, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Fulenwider, Dan. "Cullman County, Alabama History: The Black Warrior's Path". Cullman County, Alabama. Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Partain, Rich. "Streight's Raid". Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Cullman: Moving Forward while Treasuring the Past". the Cullman Times. 1998.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Johnson, Stanley. "Founding of Cullman". Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Northern Alabama: Historical and Biographical. Birmingham: Smith & Deland. 1888.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Ave Maria Grotto". Retrieved March 22, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "History of St Bernard Prep". Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce- Business Climate". Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Nossiter, Adam (February 21, 2008). "Race Matters Less in Politics of South". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Oktoberfest history Oktoberfest". Cullman, Alabama Oktoberfest. Retrieved November 29, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Cheers: Home of dry Oktoberfest goes wet". Montgomery Advertiser. Associated Press. November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 29, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "National Weather Service Huntsville, AL - Cullman County Survey Information". March 17, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Cullman City Schools". Retrieved January 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 7, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "The Best Places to Raise Your Kids 2012".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Former Ala. first lady Jamelle Folsom dies at 85". Montgomery Advertiser. Associated Press. December 2, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Climate Summary for Cullman, Alabama

External links