Fultondale was formed by the merger of three formerly autonomous communities: Lewisburg, Glendale, and Fulton Springs. In the 1870s, Bartholomew Boyles, who was also involved in the founding of Helena, Shelby County (named for his wife), bought 2,000 acres in what is now Fultondale and opened several coal mines, which he named for his daughter, Mary Lee. In 1899, the Alabama Consolidated Coal Company purchased the mines. Railroads built in the 1890s connected the mines to Birmingham's burgeoning steel district. A small settlement grew up at the terminus of the only road to Birmingham, with businesses primarily serving local miners. Electricity came to the area in the 1920s.
In the 1940s, the coal mines began to play out. In 1947, the communities of Fulton Springs and Glendale merged and incorporated as Fultondale; the first city hall was built that year as well. Fultondale lies on U.S. Highway 31, and until Interstate Highway 65 was completed, it was a popular stopping point on the route between Nashville and Birmingham. The town boasted a number of hotels by the 1950s, as well as a drive-in theater. However, when Interstate I-65 opened in the early 1960s, the town suffered economically because former visitors could now bypass it and go directly to Birmingham and points south.
Since that time, much of the town's economy and growth has depended on its proximity to Birmingham. On April 27, 2011, many structures in Fultondale were damaged or destroyed by the massive tornado outbreak between April 25-28 that claimed more than 350 lives in the Southeast.
According to the 2010 Census, Fultondale had a population of 8,380. Of that number, 75.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 16.6 percent as African American, 10.8 percent as Hispanic, 2.0 percent as two or more races, 1.0 percent as Asian, and 0.4 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2010 Census estimates, was $44,880, and the per capita income was $24,903.
According to the 2010 Census, the work force in Fultondale was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (26.3 percent)
· Manufacturing (11.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, and administrative and waste management services (10.0 percent)
· Construction (9.4 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (8.4 percent)
· Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (8.3 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, and recreation and accommodation and food services (6.7 percent)
· Retail trade (5.7 percent)
· Public administration (4.4 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.5 percent)
· Information (3.5 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.2 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)
The Fultondale schools are overseen by the Jefferson County School System. The Fultondale schools enroll approximately 1,550 students and employ approximately 100 teachers.
Events and Places of Interest
A.T. Holt Park offers numerous sports facilities, and Black Creek Park also has ball fields as well as a walking track, picnic areas, and a bandstand. Black Creek is also home to Black Creek Bridge (c. 1926), which is on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Lassiter Mountain Raceway Park is located just to the west of Fultondale and hosts drag racing during the summer. Fultondale holds a Founders Day celebration in August that includes food and craft vendors, live music, and a car show.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
James P. Kaetz
Published September 18, 2012
Last updated November 28, 2012