The city of Valley officially dates back to only 1980. However, the area has long been settled, first by the Creeks and then by whites after the Creeks were removed in 1836. The region was initially agricultural until two large textile mills were built in the 1860s. The mill towns of Langdale and Riverview grew up around the mills, and in the early 1900s two more mills were built, spawning the villages of Shawmut and Fairfax.
The four mill villages remained unincorporated until the latter part of the twentieth century. However, as the textile industry began to fade as the dominant economic force in the area, the villages found themselves more dependent on obtaining public services from Chambers County authorities. In April 1979, the four municipalities began negotiations to merge and incorporate; a main tenet of the agreement to incorporate was that no property taxes be levied by the new town. As a result, an incorporation vote was taken on April 22, 1980, and the measure passed overwhelmingly. Because the general area had long been referred to as the The Valley, the city took the name Valley. City services were established, and in 1985 a new city hall complex began operations.
In 2009, a Kia Motors Manufacturing plant opened in Georgia, five miles northeast of the city, and other new businesses that support the Kia facility have sprung up, bringing manufacturing jobs back to the area.
Valley's population according to the 2010 Census was 9,524. Of that number, 64 percent identified themselves as white, 33 percent as black, 1.7 percent as Hispanic, 1.2 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $31,501, and per capita income was $15,928.
The workforce in present-day Valley is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (23.9 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (15.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.9 percent)
· Construction (9.6 percent)
· Retail trade (9.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (8.8 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (3.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.5 percent)
· Information (3.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.7 percent)
· Public administration (2.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.1 percent)
Schools in Valley are part of the both the Lee County and the Chambers County School Districts; the town has approximately 3,790 students and 218 teachers in a four elementary schools, one middle school, and two high schools. One private school has approximately 72 students and seven teachers.
Valley is bisected by U.S. Highway 29 (north-south). Interstate 85 lies approximately two miles west of the city. The Columbus, Georgia, Metropolitan Airport is located 20 southeast of the city, and the Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport is 72 miles to the northeast.
Events and Places of Interest
The historic districts of the four former mill villages—Langdale, Fairfax, Riverview, and Shawmut—are all listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The Valley Community Center offers fitness facilities that include racquetball courts, and an adjacent sports complex has multi-use athletics fields, tennis courts, and soccer fields. Outdoor recreational opportunities include a 7.1-mile walking track built on the bed of the former Chattahoochee Valley Railway, and the Chattahoochee River, which borders the town on the east and offers fishing, swimming, and boating opportunities.
Since 2008, the city has held the Day on the River festival at the Old Shawmut Airport; the celebration takes place in May
on Memorial Day weekend and features a barbecue championship, fishing tournament, live music, multiple food venues, and a fireworks display.
Chambers County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Chambers County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
James P. Kaetz
Published August 3, 2011
Last updated August 8, 2012