Selma has a deep, rich history. It boasts the spot where famous explorer DeSoto met with Chief Tuskaloosa, and during the Civil War it was headquarters for an enormous supply and munitions center. In more recent days, Selma played a pivotal role in the American Voting Rights Movement, serving as the starting point for the famous 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.
Today, Selma's history blends seamlessly with modern times. In fact, the city contains the state's largest historic district, with over 1,250 historic structures. Excellent tours are available and help visitors get the most from their outing.
While it's easy to get side-tracked investigating quaint shops housed in old Victorian cottages, lively galleries, and fine eateries tucked inside restored riverfront buildings, visitors should be sure to leave enough time to explore Selma's past. From stately mansions such as Greek revival styled Sturdivant Hall (National Register of Historic Places), to the Old Depot Museum, an interpretive history museum full of fascinating Selma artifacts, there is a lot to do. History buffs (or anyone who enjoys a good battle) shouldn't miss the annual Reenactment of the Battle of Selma, held in late April.
The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute will transport visitors back in time. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the exhibits found here are stark reminders of the struggle endured to secure the rights for all Americans to vote, regardless of race, education or wealth. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Street Walking Tour will help visitors gain a true respect for the important role Selma's citizens played during this time period.
Just a short drive south of Selma, is Cahawba. Cahawba was the state's first permanent capitol, and at one time, the most critical shipping point on the Alabama River. Several floods, and devastation during the Civil War brought an end to this town, but a few of the original building remain. The area features a short trail, picnic facilities, and endless opportunities for exploration. In May of every year, this ghost town comes alive with The Old Cahawba Festival. Living history, storytelling, games and genuine southern barbecue are the highlights.
Selma is 45 minutes west of Montgomery, at the intersection of US Highway 80 and Route 22.