West Jefferson


West Jefferson is located in west-central Jefferson County in the central part of Alabama. It has a mayor/city council form of government.

History  

The first settlers in what would become West Jefferson were primarily farmers who arrived in the 1880s. During the next decade, mines began opening in the area, spurred by the expanding steel and iron industry in the Birmingham District, and the population increased. Several residents were killed in a 1910 explosion in a mine in nearby Palos. More mines opened and more people settled in the area during the 1920s, and in 1926 West Jefferson High School opened to provide education to the growing school-age population. Because of its proximity to the community, the nearby town adopted the name West Jefferson (the original name of the community is unclear). West Jefferson incorporated in October 1964. The town hall was completed in 1977, and a volunteer fire department was established in 1978. West Jefferson High School closed in 2000 because of declining enrollment. Several years later, the town moved its offices into the derelict building in an attempt to preserve it, with alumni contributing $75,000 toward the restoration. It now serves as both the town hall and community center; renovations are still underway. Alumni hold a large reunion every year.

Demographics

West Jefferson's population according to the 2010 Census was 338. Of that number, 96.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 2.1 percent as two or more races, 1.2 percent as African American, and 0.3 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $47,500, and the per capita income was $22,315.

Employment

According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in West Jefferson was divided among the following industrial categories:

· Construction (28.3 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (23.7   percent)
· Public administration (12.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (6.6 percent)
· Retail trade (6.6 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.1 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services   (3.5 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste   management services (3.0 percent)

Education

Schools in West Jefferson are part of the Jefferson County school system; the town has approximately 165 students and 12 teachers in one elementary school.

Transportation

West Jefferson lies less than a mile south from U.S. Highway 78/State Highway 4 (running northwest-southeast).

Events and Places of Interest

West Jefferson's southern town limit fronts the Black Warrior River. The town is the home of the West Jefferson Devil Dawgs, a semi-pro football team playing in the Alabama Spring Football League.

Additional Resources

Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.

James P. Kaetz
Auburn University


Published February 5, 2014
Last updated February 10, 2014