About Limestone County
Rich in history, Limestone County was inhabited by Indians when the first permanent white settlement was established in 1807. The United States acquired the territory from the Cherokee Indians in 1806. On March 22, 1819, the people in the county voted by a narrow margin to make Athens the county seat. Cofounders of Athens were Robert Beaty and John Corriel. These pioneers obtained a grant of 160 acres of land through the land office in Huntsville, then a part of the Mississippi Territory. They offered to give all the land necessary for public buildings and also to donate $8,000 toward the erection of a courthouse, if Athens were chosen the county seat. Athens is located in the heart of the Tennessee Valley in the extreme north central part of Alabama. It lies along Interstate 65, approximately 15 miles south of the Tennessee-Alabama state line. It is older than Alabama, being incorporated as a town on Nov. 19, 1818.
Limestone County’s population of 61,871 is 14 percent black and hispanic and 86 percent white. There are 21 educational outlets in the county. Total land area of Limestone County is 559 square miles, with 66.8 percent of acres being used for agricultural purposes (highest in the state) with a total of 1,090 farms and 23.9 acres used for forestry (lowest in the state). Cotton is the primary crop grown in the county. In 1999, 68,380 acres were harvested, the most of any county in Alabama. Livestock and poultry are the next most economically important ag enterprises. The county has about 300 cattle farms, with 30,000 acres devoted to hay and pasture.
Other crops include the $6 million ornamental crop industry. It is the third largest enterprise. The county also has a large number of fruit and vegetable farms and is the second leading wheat-producing county in the state. Major industries include Burgreen Contracting Co., CPI, CSC Pinnacle, Coilplus, ConAgra Poultry Inc., Delphi-Saginaw Div., GM Corp., Federal Mogul Sealing Systems, International Wire, Lyall Alabama Inc., Martin Industries, Owens/Corning, OEM Solutions, Pent Products; Southern Architectural Millwork, Steelcase Inc., Sweet Sue Kitchens, T&C Stamping, TVA-Brownsferry Nuclear Plant, Tris USA Inc., Turner Machine Inc., Vulcan Plastics Corp., Westwood Mfg., and Wright-K Technology Inc.
County tourist attractions include Athens State University, Athens Sportsplex, Lucy’s Branch Resort and Marina, Houston Memorial Library and Museum, Rails-to-Trails, and Old Time Fiddlers Convention.
The Limestone Extension Office has four full-time and two part-time employees and 78 volunteers. Active programs are 4-H, junior leaders, recycling, shooting sports, junior cattlemen, horse club, and Master Gardeners. About 1,200 youth are involved in 4-H activities. Limestone County 4-H is sponsored by United Way.