Bear Creek initially was known before the Civil War as Allen’s Factory after a nearby textile factory, one of two in the area. After both factories were burned during the war, the town took the name of the nearby creek. J. R. Phillips moved to Bear Creek in the early 1880s and purchased land for 12.5 cents an acre, and then subdivided it into lots, essentially creating the town of Bear Creek. The town incorporated in 1907.
Kayakers on Bear Creek The town’s greatest economic period was in the early twentieth century. The downtown area suffered significant damage from a fire in 1903 but was rebuilt. At one time the town supported several stores, a gristmill, a livery stable, a cotton gin, a hotel, and a blacksmith shop and had three doctors in practice. The town declined gradually as it lost business and population to nearby Haleyville, through which the Illinois Central Railroad had built a line, bypassing Bear Creek. In the latter half of the twentieth century, nearby manufactured homes factories helped sustain the local economy.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Bear Creek recorded a population of 1,638. Of that number, 91.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 6.2 percent as Hispanic, 1.8 percent as two or more races, and 0.7 percent as American Indian. The town’s median household income was $33,421, and the per capita income was $14,687.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Bear Creek was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (47.6 percent)
- Construction (12.4 percent)
- Retail trade (11.8 percent)
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (6.3 percent)
- Wholesale trade (6.3 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (4.7 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (4.7 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (1.8 percent)
- Public administration (1.8 percent)
- Information (1.4 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (1.0 percent)
Schools in Bear Creek are part of the Marion County school system; the town has one elementary school and one high school.
State Highway 13 runs on the eastern edge of Bear Creek, entering from the southeast and leaving the town going northeast. State Highway 172 terminates in town, entering from the west. State Highway 241 runs north-south through the western section of the town.
Events and Places of Interest
The Upper Bear Creek Reservoir, located on the eastern side of town, offers fishing, camping, swimming, and other water sports. Bear Creek offers a 34-mile Class I floatway for canoes and kayaks. The Twin Forks Recreation Area includes baseball fields, basketball courts, and a sand volleyball court, as well as an outdoor stage, picnic areas, and a playground. Bankhead National Forest is located approximately 10 miles east of Bear Creek.
Marion County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Marion County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.