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Mooleoosa Springs, or “Sweetwater” in East Florence, Alabama


In the early months of 1890, a valuable mineral spring was discovered in East Florence. These waters were analyzed and deemed so important that a stock company was quickly formed to take full advantage of them. Incorporated on May 23, 1890, Mooleoosa Springs Co. was registered with the intent to build a sanitarium on the property where the sick and the well alike could visit for health and pleasure. 

Named “Mooleoosa” from a Native American word meaning “Sweet Water,” a qualitative analysis of the spring water was made by City Engineer/Surveyor Sam Cowardin. The sample was found to be clear, tasteless, and almost entirely free of organic matter. Also found were a variety of minerals and phosphates to be declared a very rare and valuable source of mineral and medicinal water. The rapid building in the vicinity of Mooleoosa Springs allowed the people who could not get cisterns or access to the water from the city’s water works to use the water of these springs for drinking purposes. 

Mooleoosa Water delivered daily
Mooleoosa Water delivered daily

Located in East Florence, Mooleoosa Springs sat about one and a half miles from the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Four blocks from the springs sat the splendid Hotel Lauderdale, while acres of land covered with native trees made a natural park that surrounded the area. The Florence Dummy Railway was only two blocks south of Mooleoosa Springs. The owners of the springs had aspirations to build a sanitarium and a summer and winter resort at the location. Among those at the head of the enterprise were J.H. Field (President of McAlester Manufacturing Co. who built Hotel Lauderdale) and Dr. C.M. Watson (who advocated for the medicinal use of the springs).

The Mooleoosa Springs Company proposed to lease or buy Hotel Lauderdale, which was under construction at the time, to establish a sanitarium. The sanitarium concept never took off, however, and J.H. Fields shifted his ambitions to spearhead development of the Cherry Cotton Mills at the springs. The cotton mill made use of six pipes to furnish all the necessary water from the springs to operate the mills. 

Over the years, the Mooleoosa translation to “Sweet Water” took hold and Sweetwater is still what we call the area to this day.

Mooleoosa Springs
Approximate location of Mooleoosa Springs and Cherry Cotton Mill overlaid on a modern Google Street Map in East Florence, Alabama.