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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Red Hills Salamander
McKenzie straddles the border in south-central Butler and northeast Conecuh County in the south-central part of the state; most of the town is in Butler County. It has a mayor/city council form of government. The very first specimen of the Red Hills salamander was discovered near McKenzie.
The town of McKenzie sprang up around a branch line of the Alabama and Florida Railroad to Andalusia, Covington County, around 1899. Originally called Persimmon Creek, in 1900 the town was named after Bethune Beaton McKenzie, a Civil War veteran, a civil engineer responsible for building a number of railroad lines in Alabama, and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1901.
By 1905 the town had a sawmill, a cotton gin, several general stores, and a drugstore. The town incorporated in 1913.
According to 2016 Census estimates, McKenzie recorded a population of 473. Of that number, 56.2 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 43.3 percent as African American, 0.2 percent as American Indian, and 0.2 percent as two or more races. The town's median household income was $28,333, and the per capita income was $15,911.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in McKenzie was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Manufacturing (41.1 percent)
  • Retail trade (16.0 percent)
  • Educational services and health care and social assistance (12.6 percent)
  • Construction (5.7 percent)
  • Public administration (5.7 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (4.0 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (3.4 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (3.4 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (3.4 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (1.7 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (1.7 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (1.1 percent)
Schools in McKenzie are part of the Butler County school system; the town has one high school.
U.S. Highway 31 runs north-southwest through the eastern half of McKenzie; State Highway 55 runs from the southeast to the center of town and then merges with U.S. Highway 31 north.
Events and Places of Interest
McKenzie High School is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Festival Park is located in the east-central part of town.

Additional Resources

Butler County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Butler County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2003.
Published:  February 13, 2013   |   Last updated:  September 29, 2020