Rolling through the Rockdale years
Thirteen census counts show ups and downs
At the beginning of 1874 there wasn’t much more to Rockdale than this, looking north on Main from I&GN tracks. By time of 1880 census town grew to 1,185. The 2010 Census figures are in and Rockdale is within 16 residents of being as large as its ever been.
At least in a year ending in zero.
The 2010 count showed 5,595 Rockdalians, just 16 behind the all-time high of 5,611, recorded in 1980.
On this page you can see some historic places in Rockdale from past years that recall past population eras.
Here are a few facts, some trivial, some not so trivial, about them.
• The first locally-generated photo ever published in The Reporter, of a draft call during World War I, was taken on the front porch of the H. C. Meyer home.
• Residents of t he Ham Branch bottomland took refuge on the third floor of the “Meyer House” during the 1921 and 1936 floods.
H. C. Meyer, mayor in the first two decades of 20th Century, lived in the still-standing ‘Meyer Mansion’ at 436 West Bell. Rockdale dropped in population from 2,515 in 1900 to 2,073 in 1910
Reporter/Mike Brown • Lignite was never dug out of the ground with a pick-axe in the Rockdale area, no matter what artist Maxwell Starr painted in the mural on the post office wall.
• The water well in the center of the 1874 photo remained in the intersection of Main and Cameron many decades into the 20th Century.
ROCKDALE CENSUS ALL-TIME
From the 50s, city swimming pool is still in use. Population estimates ranged from 6,000 to 10,000 during Alcoa boom but it happened between censuses. The 1960 figure was just 4,481.
Northing screams ‘1930s’ in Rockdale quite like the Works Progress Administration mural on post office wall. It was painted by artist Maxwell Starr in 1939. Population the next year was 2,136.