Skip to main content

Valley Creek Canal, West Jefferson County, Alabama, reports

Identifier: W-0065

Scope and Contents

This collection contains two reports on a proposed canal project on the Valley River and Warrior River in Jefferson County, Alabama. A proposal written in 1943 discusses shipping costs on railroads and lists the commodities shipped by barge from Birmingham to Mobile and New Orleans. This report also includes a proposal written in 1917 by Gulf States Steel Company president James Bowron related to canal construction and maps of the proposed canal site. A second report was written in 1917 by the Valley River Canal Committee and presented to United States Army division engineer Colonel J. C. Sanford.


  • 1917 - 1943


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

During the first half of the twentieth century, in an effort to circumvent the northern railroad and financial moguls holding the Birmingham (Alabama) industrial district hostage, Birmingham's leaders repeatedly attempted to get the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government to build a canal from the Warrior River to Birmingham. Birmingport, on the Warrior River, is approximately twelve miles in a straight line from Birmingham's industrial center. The railroad line running between the two cities meanders seventy miles around the many hills separating the river from the two cities.

Birmingham leaders selected Henry L. Badham Jr., president of the Bessemer Coal, Iron, and Land Company, to testify in support of the canal before the Corps of Engineers. In a 2500-word presentation, which included supporting engineering studies, maps, and canal elevation profiles, Badham covered the benefits of the canal in regards to civilian job increases, greatly expanded manufacturing with new industries, and trade to the district, the South, and the rest of the United States. The affected land owners of the Birmingham district offered to donate the land for the canal right of ways.

The Corps of Engineers--after consultation with their political masters--decided that "the improvement would place Bessemer on a direct inland water route, but the cost would be entirely incommensurate with the anticipated benefits."

Source: Tom Badham, "The Valley Creek - Bessemer Canal, That Never Was," Jefferson County Historical Association Newsletter no. 4 (October 2013): 2,


0.05 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Two reports on a proposed canal project on the Valley and Warrior Rivers in Jefferson County, Alabama.

Physical Location

The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010

Related Materials

There are other materials in the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection that relate to the building of canals in Alabama and in other areas. Please see staff for assistance.


Title on phase box spine: Bowron and Weller's proposals for Valley Creek Canal, West Jefferson County

Processed by

Haley Aaron and Martha Bace, 2013



Guide to Valley Creek Canal, West Jefferson County, Alabama, reports
January 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266