There aren't many structures left in the ghost town of Cahawba, but this old chimney is among them. The marker shows an engraving of the former Cahaba Federal Prison, which shows a chimney. Since the prison was located here, experts have wondered if the chimney was part of it. However, some believe it was built at a much later date.
The prison was an unfinished warehouse intended for cotton and housed hundreds of Union prisoners during the War Between the States. Among vermin and other unpleasantries, they also endured a flood.
Finally, in March 1865, many were freed through a prisoner exchange, and they boarded steamboats headed north toward home. But on April 27, almost 700 of these former prisoners perished in the Mississippi River near Memphis when a boiler exploded on the steamship Sultana. That explosion remains the worst domestic maritime disaster in U.S. history.