Heflin is the seat of Cleburne County between the southern range of the Appalachian Mountains and the Georgia border in northeast Alabama. The town was incorporated on December 10, 1886, and has a mayor-council form of government.
Heflin was named for physician Wilson L. Heflin, father of U.S. senator from Alabama James Thomas Heflin (1920-1931). The area was developed largely by settlers from Georgia and South Carolina; much of the land on which the city was built was owned by the Newton J. Ross family, which had arrived from South Carolina in the 1830s. Heflin owes its prosperity and circumstances as the county seat to the construction of the Georgia-Pacific Railroad, completed in 1882, which linked the town to Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Jefferson County. Located almost equidistant between these two cities, Heflin thrived from the railroad-related business it derived from the cotton and lumber industries. Commuter trains taking workers to Atlanta and Birmingham made stopovers in the town, and the railroad used spurs there to store trains overnight, prompting the construction of hotels for railroad workers. Heflin also boasted a public steam-powered cotton gin and a gristmill and became noted for huckleberry production in the decades before the Great Depression.
As Heflin expanded, so did a movement to relocate the county seat there, resulting in a legal fight with supporters of the town of Edwardsville, then the county seat. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in Heflin's favor on July 1, 1906. Construction of a courthouse began on July 4, 1907, with the laying of a cornerstone. The building was later expanded so that it could house other county administrative offices and functions. It was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1976. Heflin celebrated its centennial in 1986 with arts and crafts demonstrations, including soap and lye making, cider making, quilting and weaving, smithing, basketweaving, and horse and buggy rides.
Heflin’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 3,480. Of that number, 87.3 percent identified themselves as white, 9.4 percent as African American, 2.4 percent as Hispanic, 1.6 percent as two or more races, 0.5 percent as Native American, 0.1 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $29,821, and per capita income was $16,909.
The workforce in present-day Heflin is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.7 percent)
· Manufacturing (16.1 percent)
· Retail trade (11.2 percent)
· Construction (10.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.8 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.9 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.4 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (5.1 percent)
· Public administration (5.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.7 percent)
· Information (2.9 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (2.5 percent)
Heflin schools are administered by the Cleburne County School District and include two elementary schools and a high school, which educate approximately 1,550 students and employ approximately 90 teachers. In addition, students are served by an alternative school and a career and technical school.
Heflin is traversed by State Roads 4, 9, and 46 and U.S. Route 78. It lies just north of Interstate 20, which links Atlanta and Birmingham, accessed by State Road 9 to the south and State Road 46 to the east. Norfolk Southern Railway also passes through the city.
Events and Places of Interest
Heflin abuts the northern portion of the Talladega National Forest above Interstate 20. The city is also home of the headquarters of the Shoal Creek Ranger District, which provides numerous
opportunities for boating, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and hunting. The district has several campgrounds, principally the Coleman Lake Recreation Area, which consists of a 21-acre lake with
beach access, nearly 40 improved camp sites, and new comfort stations. Also nearby in the district are the Pine Glen Recreation
Area offering primitive camping areas, 58-acre Sweetwater Lake, 19-acre High Rock Lake, four hunting camps, facilities for
horseback riding, and stretches of the Pinhoti hiking trail. In 2002, Heflin's Parks and Recreation Department opened a new
recreation center that offers a variety of activities.
The Heritage of Cleburne County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
Published July 16, 2010
Last updated October 26, 2012