Wilton Town Hall Present-day Wilton had a long history with the iron and coal industries and railroads. The area around Wilton had been settled prior to statehood in 1819. The town that arose was first known as Woodsborough by settlers who came from the Carolinas. The first iron in the county was made at a local forge.
An Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad line was established through the location in 1853; it became known as Woods by 1856 and then Junction in the 1870s. Railroads hauled away coal that was mined in the nearby settlement of Aldrich. When the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad and the Brierfield, Blocton and Birmingham Railroad connectors came through around 1890, the town became known as Birmingham Junction. A post office was established in 1892 and telegraph service soon after. The railroads prompted the construction of at least one large repair facility that later moved to Selma. The town was described as bustling with general stores and hotels until area coal mines shut down and the repair shop closed.
In the 1890s, the town came to be called Bismarck after the first chancellor of Imperial Germany, Otto von Bismarck, but the name was abandoned during World War I and the town became known as Catoosa. The city was incorporated in 1918 as Wilton and is commonly believed to be named after a city in England, which also was a railroad center. At some point, the first city hall burned down and all records were destroyed. A new stone-sided municipal hall was constructed in 1934 by the New Deal Civil Works Administration program, was renovated in the 1970s, and still stands. Prompted by drought in the mid-1930s, a pump station and a water storage tank were constructed, providing Wilton residents with water service in 1937.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Wilton recorded a population of 813. Of that number, 64.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 33.0 percent as African American, 5.3 percent as Hispanic, and 1.0 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income was $49,702, and the per capita income was $19,382.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Wilton was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (24.4 percent)
- Retail trade (20.1 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (12.0 percent)
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (11.1 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (9.6 percent)
- Construction (5.9 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (4.6 percent)
- Wholesale trade (4.0 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (2.5 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (2.2 percent)
- Public administration (2.2 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (1.5 percent)
Public education is administered by Shelby County Schools; there are no schools in the town. The University of Montevallo is located about two miles northeast of the town.
Wilton is accessed by State Highway 25, which bisects the town, running northeast-southwest. It lies fewer than 10 miles from Interstate 65 to the east. The town is the location of a junction of two Norfolk Southern Corporation lines and lies approximately 45 miles from the Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Wilton sponsors a Spring Fling celebration just before Easter, movies in Wilton Park on Friday nights during the summer, and a Christmas celebration and parade the first week of December. Wilton’s municipal building is a two-story stone structure that was built during the Great Depression. Just south of Wilton lies the Woods-Cleveland Cooling House (ca. 1845), which was one of the first homesteads built in the area and is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Wilton is convenient to the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge to the west, Tannehill State Park to the northwest, and the Oakmulgee Ranger District of the Talladega National Forest to the southwest, and Oak Mountain State Park to the northeast.
Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Pub. Consultants, 1999.