Brookside served as the headquarters for four Sloss-owned mines in the immediate area (Cardiff, Coalburg, Brazil and Brookside). Because the capacity of Brookside's processing equipment exceeded the mine output, some of the slack from the Brazil mine was brought to Brookside for washing and coking.
Brookside was incorporated in 1898. The descriptive name Brookside stems from the Five-Mile creek that flows through the town.
Sloss, like other employers in the booming industrial expansion of the early 20th century, had difficulty recruiting skilled labor. Recruitment efforts extended internationally and Brookside became the home of many Czechoslovakian immigrants and their families who made their way to the mines. As Brookside became a destination for Eastern European miners in the area, the culture of the town reflected their ethnic traditions. A Russian Orthodox church was founded and served to strengthen community ties. This church was one of the first Russian Orthodox churches built south of the Mason-Dixon. Unlike other mines where skilled whites and unskilled blacks could be played against each other by the owners, the Brookside miners were tightly organized and carried out a successful (albeit violent) strike in 1906.
Between 1910 and 1920, mining operations jumped around to several seams and the number of miners fluctuated between a low of 54 in 1910 and a high of over 600 in 1914. In 1913 the mechanical coal cutters used previously were supplanted by hand picks. A new church building for St. Nicholas was completed in 1916. A United Mine Workers of America-led general strike in 1920 combined with a global depreciation in the coal market, led to a shutdown of the mine. When the strike was settled in 1921, Brookside mine was never re-opened.
In 1924, Brookside served as one of the settings for the Famous Players-Lasky's 1925 feature film Coming Through, which was based on Jack Bethea's novel Bed Rock. Silent film stars Thomas Meighan, Lila Lee and Wallace Beery stayed with local families during production. (Jones-2007)
Brookside remains a small town with a distinct Eastern European flavor. The onion-domed church, re-faced with brick in 1965, still holds services for approximately 70 congregants. An annual "Russian Food Festival" brings visitors to tour the church, see traditional Slavic and Russian dances, and sample traditional foods prepared by the townspeople.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.0 square miles (15.5 km²), of which, 6.0 square miles (15.5 km²) of it is land and 0.17% is water.
There were 546 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $29,792, and the median income for a family was $34,821. Males had a median income of $30,900 versus $21,563 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,242. About 14.7% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.6% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.