History of Brilliant, Alabama
The Town of Brilliant is located in the southeastern portion of Marion County along Alabama Highway 129, approximately 15 miles southeast of Hamilton, the county seat, 10 miles west of the Winston and Walker county lines, and 7 miles north of the Fayette county line.
The present Town of Brilliant was incorporated as Boston, Alabama and was named for the Bostick family. There were two stores, a blacksmith shop, and down the hill on the Illinois Central Railroad, there was the Brilliant Coal Company with an office, depot, commissary (company store), doctors’ office, barber shop, and post office. Later when the Brilliant Coal Company moved its location, they moved the post office to the top of the hill to Boston. This presented a problem since there was already a Boston post office in the state. It was decided to change the name of the town to Brilliant to honor the coal company that had brought such prosperity to the area. The community was first incorporated in 1927.
The town of Brilliant was built around the coal mining industry in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. To this day, there remain several buildings of historical significance that are important to the citizens of Brilliant. The structures are all located on Main Street and include the following:
Train Depot – The Train Depot was built in the Town of Boston in the late 1800’s on the Illinois Central Railroad. This is all that is left of the original town located at the foot of the hill below Boston. The Depot is undergoing renovations and will house a museum with artifacts of the early history of coal mining in the Town of Brilliant. The Train Depot is located in the city park on the north side of town. As part of the renovation a new walking track and children’s play ground has been erected on the site.
Dickinson Store – The store was built in 1906 as a general merchandise store, serving the local community and providing goods for the areas coal miners. The building is located south of City Hall on Main Street.
United Methodist Church of Brilliant – The church and parsonage was built in the early 1920’s by local coal miners. It serves as the cornerstone of the town, as visitors travel Main Street from the south. Its architecture is unlike any other structure in town, with its high pitched roof and stained glass windows. To this day the church still holds weekly services.
Brilliant’s Coal-Mining past
Just before the turn of the century, the Aldridge brothers opened a coal mine at this location and operated it for some years as Aldridge Mining Company. They later sold it to some investors in Birmingham, Alabama, who changed the name to Brilliant Coal Company which, at one point, employed 600 employees and had one of the largest payrolls in Marion County. The name Brilliant was chosen because of the glossy appearance of the coal, which when analyzed, contained only 2% ash, 1% sulfur, and no clinker. This seam of coal was one of the best domestic seams available in the United States, and it was known as the Black Creek seam.