Proud of East Texas: New Birmingham - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proud of East Texas: New Birmingham

By Joan Hallmark

New Birmingham, in Cherokee County, heralded as the "Iron Queen of the Southwest," was a boom town that lived and died within a five year period from 1889 to 1893. The area's abundance of pig iron, essential to the production of steel, attracted the attention of sewing machine salesman Anderson Blevins. Money from Blevin's brother in law, General W.H. Hamman and eastern investors, soon turned the town into a beautiful, modern city with the "finest hotel west of the Mississippi".

New Birmingham's death blows seemed to come at once. The panic of 1893 brought the building of railroads to a halt, the bottom drooped out of iron prices, the town's major plant, the Tassie Belle, exploded, and Governor Hogg's Alien Lane Act prevented foreigners from investing in Texas land. In addition, the town's money man, General Hammon was murdered.

Hammon's wife is said to have run through the town screaming that it would "go back to the forest from whence it came". Today, only a lonely historic marker is the only sign that New Birmingham ever existed.

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