Shelby County, Alabama

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Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County, Alabama Courthouse.JPG
Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana
Seal of Shelby County, Alabama
Map of Alabama highlighting Shelby County
Location in the state of Alabama
Map of the United States highlighting Alabama
Alabama's location in the U.S.
Founded February 7, 1818
Named for Isaac Shelby
Seat Columbiana
Largest city Alabaster
 • Total 810 sq mi (2,098 km2)
 • Land 785 sq mi (2,033 km2)
 • Water 25 sq mi (65 km2), 3.0%
Population (Est.)
 • (2014) 206,655
 • Density 249/sq mi (96/km²)
Congressional district 6th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5


  • County Number 58 on Alabama Licence Plates

Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085.[1] The county seat is Columbiana.[2] The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.

Shelby County is included in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area. It ranks among the 100 highest-income counties in the United States, and is the fastest-growing county in the state.[citation needed] Shelby County's growth has accompanied the stagnation of Birmingham and Jefferson County.

The county's newspaper is the Shelby County Reporter.


Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.[3]

Shelby County has a long history in agriculture, and since about 1990, it has become an important location for growing soybeans, which has exceeded cotton as the most important crop grown there.

Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.

With the advent of the automobile and the truck, Shelby County was soon crossed from north to south by U.S. Highway 31, the major one that followed the same route as the Louisville and Nashville Railroad did. (All U.S. Highways, with "one" as their last of two digits are major north-south ones: e.g. U.S. 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, and 71.) The eastern part of Shelby County was later crossed by U.S. Highway 231 and U.S. 280

Decades later on, Shelby County was crossed by Interstate Highway 65. Hence, an important ingredient in the eventual growth of Shelby County has been its ready access to modern systems of transportation. Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 31 have long provided strong connections between Shelby county and the more populous Jefferson County directly to its north, leading to suburban development in towns such as Pelham, Helena, Alabaster, and Chelsea.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 810 square miles (2,100 km2), of which 785 square miles (2,030 km2) is land and 25 square miles (65 km2) (3.0%) is water.[4]

Parts of Shelby County are crossed by the southernmost extensions of the Appalachian Mountains, such as Oak Mountain and Double Oak Mountain. However, large parts of Shelby County are much flatter, giving good land for farms and pastures. Shelby County also has lowlands along two rivers, and one large man-made reservoir, Lay Lake, which also borders Coosa, Talladega and Chilton counties.

Most of Shelby County is drained either by the Cahaba River, which flows along the northern edge of the county, and then to the southwest, or by the Coosa River, whose valley includes the eastern end of the county. These are both important rivers in Alabama. Much farther south, both the Cahaba River and the Coosa River flow into the Alabama River, and thence to the Gulf of Mexico. To be more precise, the Coosa River and the Tallapoosa River flow together at Wetumpka, Alabama, to form the Alabama River, and then the Cahaba River is a tributary to that one farther to the west. Waxahatchee Creek, a major tributary of the Coosa River, forms the southeastern portion of the border between Shelby County and Chilton County.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Major highways[edit]




Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 2,416
1830 5,704 136.1%
1840 6,112 7.2%
1850 9,536 56.0%
1860 12,618 32.3%
1870 12,218 −3.2%
1880 17,236 41.1%
1890 20,886 21.2%
1900 23,684 13.4%
1910 26,949 13.8%
1920 27,097 0.5%
1930 27,576 1.8%
1940 28,962 5.0%
1950 30,362 4.8%
1960 32,132 5.8%
1970 38,037 18.4%
1980 66,298 74.3%
1990 99,358 49.9%
2000 143,293 44.2%
2010 195,085 36.1%
Est. 2014 206,655 5.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790-1960[6] 1900-1990[7]
1990-2000[8] 2010-2014[1]

As of the census of 2000, there were 143,293 people, 54,631 households, and 40,590 families residing in the county. The population density was 180 people per square mile (70/km2). There were 59,302 housing units at an average density of 75 per square mile (29/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 89.80% White, 7.40% Black or African American, 0.33% Native American, 1.03% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 2.03% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The largest self-reported ancestry groups in Shelby County are: English (16.3%), Irish (13.3%), "American" (mostly English and Scots-Irish) (11.5%), German (11.0%), Italian (4.2%), Scots-Irish (4.2%) and Scottish (3.9%).

There were 54,631 households out of which 36.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.60% were married couples living together, 8.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.70% were non-families. 21.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.30% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 33.70% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 8.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $55,440, and the median income for a family was $64,105. Males had a median income of $45,798 versus $31,242 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,176. About 4.60% of families and 6.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.10% of those under age 18 and 8.20% of those age 65 or over.


Shelby County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2008 76.4% 68,945 22.8% 20,575 0.9% 772
2004 80.4% 63,435 18.8% 14,850 0.8% 621
2000 76.7% 47,651 21.2% 13,183 2.1% 1,294
1996 73.1% 37,090 22.2% 11,280 4.7% 2,403
1992 68.0% 32,736 21.4% 10,317 10.6% 5,112

Prior to the early 1980s, elected officials serving or representing Shelby County were all[citation needed] affiliated with the Democratic Party. Most of the rapid transition from the Democratic Party dominance to a complete reversal, with Republicans in control of all but a couple of offices, took place during the years between 1984 and 1992. It was not, however, until the election of 2010, and specifically the results in Alabama House of Representatives District 42,[9] that Republicans held every elected office with jurisdiction or residency (or both) in Shelby County[10] (excludes municipal elected officials, who are elected on a non-partisan basis).

The Shelby County Republican Party (Alabama), under the official direction of the Republican Executive Committee of Shelby County, Alabama, is the affiliate of the Alabama Republican Party in Shelby County, and is the identity by which its governing body is known.

The County was the plaintiff in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as unconstitutional.


Shelby County Schools operates public schools in the county. Alabaster City Schools operates the six public schools in Alabaster. In 2014, Pelham began operating their own school system with three schools taken over from the Shelby County School System: Pelham High School, Riverchase Middle School, and Valley Elementary School.




Census-designated places (CDPs)[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Places of interest[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "History". Shelby County Tourism. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  9. ^ [1] Shelby County Reporter, Tuesday, November 2, 2010
  10. ^ Barnes, Fred "Crimson Tide: Alabama goes very, very red., The Weekly Standard, Nov 22, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 10.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°15′55″N 86°40′04″W / 33.26528°N 86.66778°W / 33.26528; -86.66778