National Geographic : 1968 Mar
KODACHROME(LEFT) BY JOSEPHJ. SCHERSCHEL;EKTACHROMEBY ROBERTW. MADDEN() N.G.S. Ship castings take shape in the Mobile Pulley and Ma chine Works, one of the South's largest foundries. A city long wed to the sea, Mobile welcomed early-19th-century sailing ships from Europe and New England, come to carry cotton home to the textile mills. In both World Wars I and II, her shipyards hummed around the clock to build and repair U. S. merchantmen and fighting vessels. Wood gets a wet-down at the International Paper Com pany's huge plant on the edge of the city. Spraying the pine and hardwoods prevents fibers from drying out before ma chines convert the 20,000-cord stockpile into bags, wrap pings, other kraft products, and newsprint. Modern Mobile's varied industries present a striking contrast to the one-enterprise era between 1820 and 1860. Cotton was king, and river paddle-wheelers churning south from the "Black Belt," named for its dark clay soil, brought bales with a total value as high as $20,000,000 in a single year. But the Civil War shattered the city's prosperity, and a Federal blockade threatened its citizens with starvation. During lean Reconstruction times the port lapsed into ob scurity, but now, a century later, it booms again.