Red Bay was first known as Vinson's Crossroads. The most likely origin of the town's name was its location amid what was at the time a large stand of redbay trees. The first post office was opened in 1887, quickly closed, then reopened in 1890. The town was initially located on Gum Creek but at some point early in its history was moved one and a half miles southwest to its current location.
The town was incorporated in 1907; sources differ about the date. Also in 1907, the town became a stop on a branch of the Illinois Central Railroad. As a result, it became a lumber cutting and shipping center.
Red Bay's population according to the 2010 Census was 3,158. Of that number, 92.5 percent identified themselves as white, 5.1 percent as Hispanic, 1.9 percent as two or more races, 1.2 percent as black, 0.3 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income was $29,157, and the per capita income was $17,573.
Red Bay's work force was divided among the following industrial categories, according to the 2010 Census:
· Manufacturing (44.7 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (21.2 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.3 percent)
· Retail trade (4.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.8 percent)
· Construction (3.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.4 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.9 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.9 percent)
· Public administration (0.5 percent)
Leading employers in the area include Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Colbert County/Northwest Alabama Health Care Authority, The Gates Corporation, and Sunshine Trucking Inc.
Schools in Red Bay are part of the Franklin County School District; the town has approximately 800 students and 50 teachers in one high school.
State Highway 24 runs east-west through Red Bay, State Highway 23 runs southwest, County Roads 3 and 11 run north from the city, and State Highway 19 runs south.
Events and Places of Interest
The Red Bay Museum features a number of exhibits related to the history of the city, including original fixtures from the city's first bank, a soda fountain including the counter from an early drug store, and other memorabilia. The museum also features an exhibit on country music star Tammy Wynette, who was born just across the state line in Mississippi but spent considerable time in Red Bay as she was growing up.
Red Bay has a city park with a swimming pool and water slide, a skate board facility, a walking trail, and a soccer field. It also has a sports complex with four baseball/softball fields. The Redmont Country Club includes an 18-hole golf course and a swimming pool.
The Red Bay Founder's Day celebration held in September hosts a photography contest, a fiddling and buck dancing contest, a car and bike show, a Miss Founder's Day pageant, and a bike ride and 5K run, as well as food and craft vendors and musical entertainment.
The Red Bay Arts and Entertainment Center houses the community theater, a banquet room, and a garden room.
Franklin County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Franklin County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1999.
James P. Kaetz
Published February 9, 2012
Last updated February 9, 2012