Steele is located in northeast St. Clair County in northeast Alabama. It has a mayor/council form of government.


Bluegrass Festival at Horsepens 40 in Steele Arriving around 1814, a number of the early notable settlers in present-day Steele were veterans of the Revolutionary War, including Capt. Edward Beason, David Brown, and Noel Battles. In the 1820s, a Methodist church was organized and a stagecoach stop was constructed; a Baptist church was constructed around 1830. The town was named for Joshua Toliver Steele, who bought property from one of the early homesteaders. He later donated four acres of land for a depot for the Alabama Great Southern Railroad, which then named him as the first station agent. Steele’s son Abraham operated a tannery there that was of such importance he was granted an exemption from service in the Confederate Army. Citizens in the town were divided during the Civil War, with some joining the U.S. Army. These Union recruits drowned in the sinking of the paddle wheeler S.S. Sultana, which exploded in April 1865 near Memphis, Tennessee.

After the war, the town’s first store was constructed and a hotel was built that also housed the post office, and the town soon boasted gristmills and a sawmill. In 1880, a two-story schoolhouse was constructed to replace a log cabin structure and was later known as the Valley Grove Academy. Around 1900, townspeople tried to incorporate Steele, but the effort was unsuccessful. A peach-packing plant was established about this time that also made baskets for the peaches harvested from nearby Chandler Mountain. Another factory produced charcoal for the local iron furnaces. Steele was finally incorporated in 1952.


According to 2020 Census estimates, Steele recorded a population of 1,133. Of that number, 69.0 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 23.9 percent as Hispanic, 17.3 percent as two or more races, 4.0 percent as American Indian, and 0.5 percent as Asian. The town’s median household income was $60,408, and the per capita income was $24,867.


According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Steele was divided among the following industrial categories:

  • Manufacturing (21.4 percent)
  • Educational services and health care and social assistance (20.4 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (12.7 percent)
  • Retail trade (10.6 percent)
  • Construction (9.8 percent)
  • Public administration (8.7 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (3.6 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (3.6 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (2.8 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.5 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (2.1 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (0.8 percent)
  • Information (0.8 percent)


Public education in Steele is administered by St. Clair County Board of Education, which oversees a junior high school in the town.


Interstate 59 runs northeast-southwest through the southeastern portion of the town. U.S. Highway 11/State Route 7 run parallel to the interstate through the center of town. The Norfolk Southern Corporation operates a rail line through Steele. The Northeast Alabama Regional Airport, a public-use aviation facility in Gadsden, lies approximately 10 miles to the east.

Events and Places of Interest

Steele sponsors an all-day Fourth of July celebration with a fireworks show provided by the Steele fire department. It also supports a city park with a ball field. Just across Interstate 59 is the Alabama International Speedway dragstrip. Nearby on adjacent Chandler Mountain is Horse Pens 40, a privately owned nature park open to the public. Aquatic recreational activities are available on the Coosa River.

Additional Resources

Crow, Mattie Lou Teague. History of St. Clair County, Alabama. Huntsville, Ala.: Strode Publishers, 1973.

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