Cordova was originally a settlement on the Warrior River Called “Dent” or “Dent’s Place.” The city was dubbed “Cordova” by Captain Benjamin M. Long in 1859. He named the city after a city in Mexico in which he was stationed during the Mexican War. Long himself opened a mercantile shop in the city and helped lure other industries into the city by providing the land necessary for their operations. The company that had the biggest impact on the City was Nashua Manufacturing Company out of Nashua, NH, who brought in the Indian Head Textile Mills. The mill brought with it many jobs, and as was customary of the day its own village. The company built over 100 houses in the city, many of which are still standing, and occupied today. The company even built the Indian Head school on the site of present day “Cordova Health and Rehabilitation Center.” The mill helped to bring two major railways to the city, which at the time helped connect the city to much of the surrounding area. The mill eventually became its own “town” and even had its own separate police force. The same way the mill shaped the city around the turn of the 20th century it also shaped it upon its closing in the middle of the century. Population declined and industry slowed, while neighboring Jasper took a strong hold on the county seat as the largest city in the county.
Present Day Cordova
Currently, Cordova’s main industries include liquid asphalt production, steel fabrication, the county school system, and elderly care facilities. In 2005, these industries supplied only about 400 jobs whereas in 1970, there were approximately 1,200 jobs produced by these and other local industries, including coal mining, a cotton gin, and a brick plant.
Before the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, Cordova’s downtown area contained several businesses including a grocery store, two restaurants, a Laundromat, two miscellaneous stores, two banks, two drug stores, City Hall, a senior citizens’ building, the City Library and a gas station. After the devastation of April’s tornado, only one bank and the gas station remain in downtown. The remaining buildings were heavily damaged to an unsafe condition or completely destroyed. In addition to the destruction of these buildings/businesses, approximately 75 homes and 14 additional businesses were destroyed and about 340 homes were heavily damaged.
Since the tornado, City Hall, the Water and Gas Board, the Senior Center have been temporarily relocated into the old armory building located at 3885 North Massachusetts Avenue, adjacent to Cordova High School.
The City of Cordova has many transportation alternatives. Cordova is located just five miles south of US Highway 78 along County Road 22. After highway construction is completed, the existing City of Cordova corporate limits will be within two miles of the new Birmingham to Memphis Interstate 22. Interchanges to 1-22 will be located on County Roads 22 and 61 just outside of the Cordova City Limits. Plans to annex these interchanges into’ the City of Cordova corporate limits are currently underway. Two national railways, Southern and Burlington Northern, currently pass through the center of Cordova. In addition, four dock facilities for barge traffic are located throughout Cordova at BAE System, Vulcan Refinery, G&R Plant Maintenance, and the old BFP Facility.
Even though the City has suffered much loss, we still have a strong spirit. We hope to rebuild and be better than ever.