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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Foley is located in southwest Alabama in Baldwin County. It has a mayor/council form of government.
Foley is named for John B. Foley of Chicago, who bought land in the area in 1901 and then formed Magnolia Springs Land Company. He persuaded the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) to run a spur to the area by promising to pay for the crossties needed for the line. By 1905, the town was large enough to warrant a post office, and it incorporated in 1915. Foley was primarily a farming community, served by the L&N via a depot and warehouse for farm products, notably potatoes. Early businesses included a bottling company that produced a soft-drink called "Ski-Hi." The first newspaper, a weekly called The Onlooker, began publication in 1907.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Foley recorded a population of 16,741. Of that number, 78.1 percent identified themselves as white, 16.5 percent as African American, 3.9 percent as Hispanic, 2.2 percent as two or more races, 0.4 percent as Asian, and 0.3 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $42,172, and per capita income was $25,195.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Foley was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.6 percent)
  • Retail trade (17.6 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (12.2 percent)
  • Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (12.0 percent)
  • Construction (10.8 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.0 percent)
  • Manufacturing (5.3 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (4.6 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.2 percent)
  • Public administration (2.8 percent)
  • Information (2.7 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (1.9 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.2 percent)
Schools in Foley are part of the Baldwin School District; the city has two elementary, one intermediate, one middle, and one high school. Coastal Alabama Community College oversees the Career and Technical Facility in the Baldwin Center for Business Development in Foley.
Foley is intersected by U.S. Highway 98 (east-west) and State Highway 59 (north-south). The Foley Municipal Airport is located three miles northwest of the city center and serves general aviation.
Events and Places of Interest
Foley Railroad Museum
Each November, Foley holds the three-day Heritage Harbor Days in Foley Heritage Park; during this celebration, Foley sends its 28-foot shrimp boat, the "Miss Foley," to another city along with food, crafts, and music representative of city's heritage. The exchange city reciprocates with a slice of its own culture and heritage. Past exchange cities include Maggie Valley, North Carolina; Ozark, Missouri; and Winchester, Tennessee, among others. The celebration has taken place since 2001 and includes live entertainment featuring local and national bands, dancers, storytellers, children's activities, food, and fireworks. The city also holds a Flower and Garden Extravaganza in April in Heritage Park, a downtown Halloween event, and an early December winter celebration.
Foley has nine city parks with athletic fields for softball, baseball, and soccer, as well as basketball and tennis courts and two municipal swimming pools. The city also features a recently opened hiking and biking trail and a horse arena.
The Foley Depot Museum, located in downtown Foley, houses the city archives and history museum, as well as a model train exhibit. The Foley Downtown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Foley is a popular shopping destination, having one of the largest outlet malls in the state.

Additional Resources

Rich, Doris. When Foley Was Young, 1900-1921. Foley, Ala.: Underwood Printing Company, 1983.
The Heritage of Baldwin County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
Published:  March 30, 2011   |   Last updated:  November 8, 2021