Clay is located in northeastern Jefferson County in the central part of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
Mt. Calvary Presbyterian Church The first non-Indian settlers in the area that now encompasses Clay arrived around 1806. The community was initially known as Shiloh’s Beat after a local Methodist church. The community lay on a main road, called the Georgia Road, that connected the Carolinas and Birmingham, Jefferson County.
The first post office in Clay opened in 1878. Allegedly the first postmaster named the post office (and thus the town) after the red-clay soil that dominated the area. Clay became known for the Alabama Caverns, also known as McCluney’s Cave and Crystal Cave, which drew tourists for years until closing to the public in the 1960s. Cosby Lake also was a tourist destination.
To maintain greater control over their community, residents of Clay voted in June 2000 to incorporate. Nearby Chalkville later became part of Clay.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Clay recorded a population of 9,936. Of that number, 61.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 37.7 percent as African American, 1.0 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 0.4 percent as Asian, and 0.1 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income was $67,854, and the per capita income was $29,702.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Clay was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (27.9 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (11.4 percent)
- Retail trade (10.3 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (9.5 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (8.3 percent)
- Manufacturing (8.2 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.5 percent)
- Construction (5.1 percent)
- Wholesale trade (4.4 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (4.3 percent)
- Information (2.4 percent)
- Public administration (1.5 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.4 percent)
Schools in Clay are part of the Jefferson County school system; the town has one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school.
Interstate Highway 59, running southwest-northeast, is located about two miles southeast of Clay. County Road 153 bisects the town going southeast.
Events and Places of Interest
Clay maintains three city parks that offer athletics fields, picnic areas, a walking trail, and fishing. Clay holds a Clay May Days celebration that includes arts and crafts vendors, carnival rides, and music. The city also holds an annual Christmas Parade.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.