Clanton is the seat of Chilton County and is located in the center of the state. The city was incorporated in 1873 and has a mayor-council form of government.
The first seat of Chilton County was located in the town of Grantville, named for Union general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. The Grantville court house burned in 1870, and the seat was moved to Goose Pond, which was founded sometime in the late antebellum years on the route of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The town was renamed Clanton in 1871 to honor Brig. Gen. James Holt Clanton, a veteran of the Mexican War and the Civil War, in the years when Democrats began to take control of the state from Reconstruction Republicans. Alfred Baker, son of early pioneers, was instrumental in the development of both Clanton and Chilton County. During his brief stint as a Republican in the legislature (he later became a Democrat), Baker helped write legislation creating Baker County in 1868, which was renamed Chilton County in 1874. Baker had numerous business interests in Clanton, including stores, a stable, a storehouse, and a hotel, and he also donated land for the courthouse. A brick courthouse was constructed in 1896; it burned in 1917 and was rebuilt in 1918. The present courthouse was built in 1960-61.
The town prospered in the early decades of the twentieth century from the construction of the Lay Dam and Mitchell Dam hydroelectric projects and later from the arrival of the textile industry, which boosted the local population and boomed during World War II. During the depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established in the town whose participants engaged in soil conservation programs, such as building retention ponds and drainage ditches. The CCC camp was repurposed in May 1943 to house German and Italian prisoners of war. It closed in September 1945.
Clanton is well known for its 120-foot high, 500,000-gallon water tower constructed and painted in the shape of a giant ripe peach, which celebrates the importance of the peach industry to the county; it was built in 1994.
Clanton’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 8,619. Of that number, 74.9 percent identified themselves as white, 19.1 as African American, 6.0 percent as Hispanic, 1.4 percent as two or more races, 0.6 as Asian, and 0.3 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $35256, and per capita income was $20,336.
The workforce in present-day Clanton is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Retail trade (16.2 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (14.8 percent)
· Manufacturing (14.8 percent)
· Construction (8.4 percent)
· Information (8.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (7.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.3 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.8 percent)
· Wholesale trade (5.8 percent)
· Public administration (5.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.4 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.2 percent)
Public education in Clanton is administered by the Chilton County School District, which oversees one elementary school, one intermediate school, one middle school, and one high school that collectively enroll approximately 1,970 students and employ approximately 125 teachers. In addition, Clanton has a private K-9 school and a career and technical center serving individuals from the 9th through 12th grades.
Clanton lies just west of Interstate 65. It is accessed by U.S. Route 31 and State Route 3, which run north-south, and State Route 22, which accesses Clanton from the south and west. In addition, State Route 145 enters from the northeast after intersecting I-65. Gragg-Wade Field, which was completed in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration, is a city-owned public airport just east of the city serving general aviation.
Events and Places of Interest
Clanton has numerous outdoor recreational facilities, including the Clanton City Park, which offers baseball, football, softball,
and soccer fields, event pavilions, and a swimming pool. The E. M. Henry Skill Center and Pool has swimming and fitness facilities, and Goosepond Park provides a walking track and
picnic facilities. In addition, the Clanton Recreation Center is available to rent for events. In June, the city holds its
annual Peach Festival and hosts a yearly Fourth of July celebration to commemorate Independence Day. Clanton Golf and Country
Club lies just south of Clanton. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places is Gragg-Wade Field Historic District.
Listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage are the Hotel Willingham and the Matthews-Reynolds Home (ca. 1908-09).
Heritage of Chilton County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
Wyatt, Thomas Eugene. Chilton County and Her People: History of Chilton County. Montevallo, Ala.: Times Printing Company, 1970.
Published January 3, 2011
Last updated March 22, 2013