ABOUT CITRONELLE, ALABAMA
Although settlers appeared in the area now known as Citronelle as early as 1811, the town itself owes its existence to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which constructed a line from Mobile to Citronelle in 1851-52. Eventually the line would connect with Meridian, MS and on to Chicago, IL. The town was laid out by representatives of the railroad and named because of the abundance of citronella plants in the area.
The first train ran on the line in 1852. The railroad promoted the town as a health resort because of its altitude and mineral springs and created brochures to encourage tourism. Increasing visits of tourists spurred the construction of several hotels. Early industries in the area included turpentine plants, sawmills, and pecan and fruit orchards.
Citronelle lays claim to being the site of the last surrender of Confederate forces east of the Mississippi, on May 4, 1865. The surrender took place under a large white oak tree. The Citronelle Historical Preservation Society hosts the Surrender Oak Festival each year on the first Saturday in May.
Citronelle was incorporated in 1892, and the library was constructed the following year. Electricity came to the town in 1899. The volunteer fire department was established in 1903. Southern Bell installed the first telephone system in 1906 with 12 subscribers and water and sewer service were provided by 1916.
The Citronelle Chautauqua Association was organized in 1904 for the purpose of maintaining and operating an institution for "entertainment, instruction, and culture - literary, scientific, religious, and otherwise." Composed of 141 members, it opened each year from March 2 to March 29. Twenty-two acres were purchased, located on the present Baptist Assembly grounds on Center Street. The auditorium seated 2,000. Many times standing room only.
Citronelle Oil Field: In recent decades Citronelle has become a center of oil production. The first well was attempted as early as 1902 but ended in failure with a broken drill bit. Oil was discovered north of town in 1955 and Citronelle became known as the Oil Capital of Alabama.
Today, Citronelle is still a warm and welcoming community that has a lot to offer new residents and businesses alike. The city has many amenities such as an 18 hole golf course, beautiful parks, baseball and football fields. We have a gas lighted walking trail that extends three miles, a museum, and many historic homes and buildings. Please visit the City of Citronelle webpage.