On Tour: Old Cahawba Archeological Site

Students from Auburn University's school of architecture are breathing new life into Old Cahawba.

"We are reconstructing St. Luke's Episcopal Church," explained one student.

Old Cahawba made a deal with the former owners to return the church to its original site. It's a tough job, considering many pieces of the church have disappeared over the last 150 years.

In 1850, Cahawba was a bustling town. It was the county seat and the state capital before that.

"It was a very wealthy community," explained site director and archeologist, Linda Derry. "Dallas county in 1860 had the third highest per capita income in the United States."

Old Cahawba sits at the site where the Cahaba and Alabama rivers merge. That made it an important transportation hub, which attracted settlers dating back to the native Americans.

"There was a booming town here in the 1850's, a Confederate prison during the civil war, and a Friedman's village during reconstruction times," Derry said.

But there's very little visible proof of those days. You can still see two cemeteries, a slave house, and three columns that used to be part of a grand home along the river.

Most of the other homes either burned or were dismantled and moved to nearby Selma.

"This whole town, most of it's gone, but it's all still there underground," Derry said.

Run by the Alabama Historic Commission, Old Cahawba also offers nature trails and kayaking opportunities. For more information, log on to www.cahawba.com.

Reporter: Mark Bullock