Stories and ghostly tales from the 1930s of how Shades Valley in Jefferson County, Alabama was named
(WPA Alabama Writer’s Project)
There are at least two stories of how this beautiful valley was so named. The widow of Bayles Grove, one of Jefferson County’s pioneer citizens gave one of these stories.
A traveler, while making his way through this section of the county was waylaid by a bank of robbers and slain. A number of years later, other people, travelling through this same region, came upon the skeleton, supposedly, of this man. The skeleton was found on the bank of a small creek in the valley. This creek was called “Creek of the Shades of Death” after the finding of the skeleton, thus giving the name to both valley and mountain.
Still another tradition gives a different reason for the name. Because the foliage here is taller, denser and richer, it casts deepening shadows throughout the valley. Thus the name came to be “Shades Valley” or “Valley of the Shadows.”
Shades Mountain with Shades Valley below Postcard ca. 1950
Jefferson County History by F. W. Teeple & A. Davis Smith, Teeple & Smith Publishers (Caldwell Printing Works, Birmingham)
HOW SHADES VALLEY WAS NAMED
Long ago, many traders came through Alabama to trade with the Chickasaw Indians. On the route to Charleston, Savannah, and Augusta was a long dark valley. There were no Indian settlements in this gloomy valley for miles. Any white man, who attempted to cross this valley alone, did so at the risk of his life for treachrous (sic) Indians often killed white men here and left their bodies in the valley. Because of the bones of murdered men, it became known as “the valley of the Shadow of death” and “the land of the shades”. From this the name, Shades Valley originated.
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