According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 73.5 square miles (190.3 km²), of which, 59.4 square miles (153.9 km²) of it is land and 14.1 square miles (36.4 km²) of it (19.13%) is water. It sits on a reservoir called Walter F. George Lake, or just Lake Eufaula to locals.
Beginning no later than 1733, the site along the Chattahoochee River that is now modern-day Eufaula was occupied by three Creek Indian tribes of the Muscogee Nation. The most dominant of the three, and most open to contact with whites, was named "the Eufaulas" (pronounced "you-fall-uhs.") In 1823, families from Georgia, looking for fertile crop land, established a permanent white settlement on the high bluffs of the area and adopted the Creek village's name.
General William Irwin, a hero of the War of 1812, was granted several thousand acres of land in nearby Henry County. One of the most prosperous men in the area, he served as its first State Senator. With his influence, he promoted the area's development and established the first steamboat wharf along Eufaula's high bluffs. This set the stage for the town's rise to prominence as a center of trade. In his honor, Eufaula was renamed the city of "Irwinton."
Attracted by the area's rich soil, and further encouraged by the opening of the Federal Road, white settlers swarmed the area. Due to the Treaty of Cusseta, in 1832, the Creeks were forced to abandon their land rights in the area and Barbour County was incorporated. The Creeks were reconsolidated with others tribes in Muscogee Nation in upper Florida, thus leaving their native homeland forever.
In 1834, U.S. Army Captain Seth Lore and others developed what is now the downtown area, naming the four main north-south avenues "Livingston," "Orange," "Randolph," and "Eufaula" (L-O-R-E.) The Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District of Eufaula now encompasses much of the oldest part of the city. In late 1843, the town was re-named "Eufaula," because the mail was constantly misdirected to Irwinton, Georgia.
The town became a major shipping and trading point for surrounding counties in Georgia and Alabama. Its many impressive antebellum homes and businesses attest to the wealth and culture of the period. Eufaula became politically powerful, and the "Eufaula Regency," as early as the late 1840s, supported secession of Alabama from the United States. After the start of the American Civil War six companies of infantrymen and cavalrymen (an impressive number considering the population of the area at the time) came from Eufaula and its encompassing county, Barbour County. These men fought for the Confederate States of America in battles as far away as Virginia. They also developed a reputation as fierce fighters, using tactics learned through many decades of conflicts with the Creeks. John Gill Shorter, who returned to Eufaula after being wounded early in the war, served as Governor of Alabama during the Civil War.
Following the defeat and fall of Montgomery, the state capital, to Union troops, Eufaulians could only wait for the worst. On April 29, 1865, a messenger galloped in with news that General Benjamin H. Grierson, Commanding General of over 4,000 Union cavalrymen, was approaching from Clayton, Alabama, to the west. Under a flag of truce, Eufaula's mayor, Doctor C. J. Pope, and other prominent citizens met General Grierson beyond College Hill with news that General Robert E. Lee had already surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse and that the Civil War was over. The Union troops marched peacefully across the river to camp in Georgetown, Georgia as Doctor Pope rushed back with barely enough time to disband the local militias to avoid conflict. Dr. and Mrs. Pope entertained the general and his staff at dinner. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Pope, Eufaula remained intact, her citizens unharmed.
After the Civil War, the town's fortunes suffered from the restrictive Reconstruction Act and the loss of plantation-produced cotton. However, by the early 1900s, Eufaula was booming again with cotton mills and railways. In 1963, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created Lake Walter F. George (unofficially named Lake Eufaula) behind the lock and dam of Fort Gaines, Georgia, once again assuring Eufaula's importance as an inland port.
In 1964, the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge was established along Lake Walter F. George to serve and protect many endangered and threatened species such as the American Bald Eagle, the American Alligator, the wood stork and the peregrine falcon. The refuge is a major tourist attraction for visitors from around the country.
There were 5,447 households out of which 35.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 20.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the city, the population's age was spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,910, and the median income for a family was $37,640. Males had a median income of $30,617 versus $20,477 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,146. About 19.3% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.2% of those under age 18 and 27.2% of those age 65 or over.