Arley is located in southeastern Winston County in the northwestern corner of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government. The majority of the town lies within the William B. Bankhead National Forest.
Lewis Smith Lake The first land grants in the Arley area were awarded as early as 1832. The town initially appears to have been called Dismal, with the first post office bearing that name and being located in the home of Thomas M. Wadsworth. According to local histories, the town was named for Robert Arley Gibson, son of a local minister who also established the Arley School. The Dismal post office was closed in 1902 and a new one opened in 1903 near the Arley School, and the town took that name as well. The first telephone system was installed in Arley in 1909 and was replaced in 1920. The first public school was built in 1923. As with most towns in Alabama, the Great Depression caused economic hardship in Arley. In 1937, the Tennessee Valley Authority brought electricity to the area. The first paved road, from Jasper, Walker County, was completed in 1953. Arley incorporated on December 18, 1965.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Arley recorded a population of 642. Of that number, 94.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 0.5 percent as African American, 2.5 percent as two or more races, and 0.2 percent as American Indian. The town’s median household income was $46,500, and the per capita income was $16,376.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Arley was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (26.8 percent)
- Manufacturing (15.8 percent)
- Construction (14.7 percent)
- Public administration (11.3 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (9.8 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (9.4 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.3 percent)
- Retail trade (2.3 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (1.9 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (1.1 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (0.8 percent)
- Information (0.4 percent)
- Wholesale trade (0.4 percent)
Schools in Arley are part of the Winston County school system; the town has one elementary school and one high school.
Arley lies on State Highway 257, which runs north-south through the town and connects it with U.S. Highway 278, running east-west.
Events and Places of Interest
Much of Arley is located within the east side of Bankhead National Forest, and it lies within a mile of Lewis Smith Lake.
On the third Friday of March, Arley holds its annual Chittlin’ Supper as a fundraiser. The event focuses on recipes featuring the southern mainstay as well as other types of regional cooking. Each May, the town hosts the Arley Day Festival, Car Show, and Parade.
Winston County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Winston County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.