Loachapoka is located in Lee County, Alabama, about seven miles west of Auburn.
The population was 165 as of the 2000 census. The name "Loachapoka" means
"turtle killing place" in Muskogee. In literature, Lochapoka was the
destination of the colonists in James H. Street's 1940 novel Oh, Promised Land.
Loachapoka was a Creek Indian town for some decades prior to white settlement. In the last census prior to the Native removal to Oklahoma, Loachapoka was found to have a population of 564. Upon settlement by Euro-Americans, Loachapoka-temporarily renamed Ball's Fork-became the regional trade center, a position that was reinforced in 1845 when it became the eastern-most point on the railroad to Montgomery.
Loachapoka's influence peaked in the early 1870s, when her population reached nearly 1,300. Within a few years, a collapse of trade due to the Panic of 1873 and additional rail lines in the area sent Loachapoka into economic decline. Loachapoka roughly stabilized as a small farming community by the mid-1900s, and by the early 2000s had become a small-town suburb of Auburn.
During the Civil War, the trading center served as a Confederate armory. Lee, Tallapoosa, and Chamber county residents came to Loachapoka to enlist. Three regiments (the 34th, 46th, and 47th Alabama) were formed in in Loachapoka in 1862, and the Loachapoka Rifles (Co. B of the 6th Alabama) also contributed men to the southern cause. Loachapokan John R. Leftwich served General Robert E. Lee as his chief clerk from 1863 to 1865.
Loachapoka was twice raided by federal troops during the war. General Lovell Rousseau entered the town with several thousand troops in July 1864, burning the train depot and supplies and heating and twisting the metal rails to render them useless. Warned of the raiders impending arrival, Loachapokans buried meat and silver wrapped in sheets in corn fields and hid their livestock. In mid-April 1865 General James Wilson's raiders passed south of Loachapoka.
Today, Loachapoka is home to the annual Syrup Sopping Day. A historical fair and celebration of making syrup in traditional methods from sorghum and ribbon cane, Syrup Sopping Day attracts more than 20,000 people to Loachapoka annually. Loachapoaka is also the home town of country musician singer Freddie Hart.
Loachapoka is a sleepy little town on a very busy highway. There is not a lot of business going on in town since it is so close to Auburn, but I discovered that it does have some interesting activities. For Instance, Fred's Feed and Seed, located just down the street from City Hall, also serves as a music venue and "pickin' parlor." Fred's regularly features traditional barn dances on the first and third Thursdays of each month.
I walked around for quite some time taking pictures and enjoying the different historical sites. I struck up a conversation with one of the local residents as I walked by the post office. It turned out that this was one of those bonuses you get when you do not expect it. He was very knowledgeable and proud of his town's history. He talked about Union General Rousseau's raid through the area. He also mentioned that Loachapoka was the site of the last large gathering of Indians before they started their fateful journey to Oklahoma in what was to be called the "Trail of Tears."