Clear Creek is in Winston County, Alabama, and it flows through the cities of Haleyville and Double Springs, plus numerous communities, current and long forgotten. View photos of the creek as it starts in Haleyville until it widens and empties out into Sipsey Fork of Smith Lake. There are also some nice bridge shots at different angles, plus a short history of the creek as well as events surrounding it. If you know anything that happened on Clear Creek, please e-mail me. I would appreciate any information. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLEAR CREEK REFLECTIONS
By: Peter J. Gossett
There are two things to remember about Clear Creek: it is never clear, and it is always cold, no matter the temperature, because of the many springs that feed it. However, one of the most significant points of Clear Creek no longer exists. Clear Creek Falls disappeared from sight in 1961, as Alabama Power flooded the falls to create Lewis Smith Lake. The upper falls measured 43 feet, and the lower falls measured 37 feet. The town surrounding the area changed names three times, the first being Clear Creek Falls, and a post office with that name established September 29, 1853, and the town changed names again to Elk on March 30, 1888, and finally to Falls City on February 15, 1908. Although the name of Clear Creek was already established by 1853, there is evidence to prove that it was given this name prior to Hancock/Winston County being created out of Walker County. In Acts of Alabama, 1826, Act 26, Section 27, while establishing election precincts in Walker County (now Winston), mentions Clear Creek even at this early stage of the state: "And be it further enacted, that an additional election precinct be and the same is hereby established at the house of Wyatt Cheatham, on Clear creek, in Walker county." The place where the town of Clear Creek Falls was is also under Smith Lake, located at the dead-end of County Road 8.
However, it was not always known as Clear Creek. As early as 1823, Alabama historical maps show the name to be Grand River, and according to Jim Manasco, the Chickasaw's had called it the "River of the Long Leaf Pines," but the original name was Pacana (pronounced "Paw-can-naw") which, translated by the French, meant "Flat Rock River." Jesse Livingston, on encountering Clear Creek Falls in 1812, supposedly named it Grand River. It was named Clear Creek "from the many bold mountain springs which flow into it."
The headwaters of Clear Creek start in Haleyville, in the northwestern area of Winston County, at the old community of Ark as an underground spring beside 17th Avenue on George Porter's property. It travels a short distance before crossing under State Highway 195 through culverts at the Glass House Car Wash where it enters Rocky Ravine Park. From there, it flows in a southeastern direction by the City Lake. Small, unnamed branches that run into the creek start out near the "Gravel Pit," and is incorrectly labeled as Clear Creek on Google Maps. They cross County Road 58 and County Road 32 (the section of the road called Pounders and Sims Road) near the old community of DeFoor, and both run into Clear Creek. County Road 30, also called Ward Bridge Road and 14th Avenue, connects in with County Road 32 (the section called Macedonia Road) near Macedonia Church. One can assume that the "bridge" where Clear Creek flows under County Road 30 was called Ward Bridge. No bridge exists there now, as culverts replaced it. The next road intersection is County Road 81, also called the Delmar Road, in the famous Booger Tree and Deer communities. The old one-way bridge, called Davis Bridge, was replaced in 1994 and the road before and after the bridge re-routed. Remnants of the Davis Bridge can still be seen there. From this point, the same creek flows on out to U.S. Hwy. 278, where just south of the highway, Little Clear Creek runs into it. Little Clear Creek forms south of Delmar, crosses U.S. Hwy. 278, and flows in an eastern direction. The only bridge crossing of Little Clear Creek is on County Road 368, also called the Clear Creek Road. The wooden bridge was replaced with culverts about 2003. However, the old road used to travel a different route, now grown up, and there still exists a steel bridge, although the wood no longer exists on it, that crosses Little Clear Creek. This is the area where Little Clear Creek and Tanyard Creek meet.
Backing up just a bit: Right Fork Clear Creek, which later becomes the main part of the creek flowing most throughout the county, starts behind Winston Memorial Cemetery in Haleyville as well, crossing County Road 15 about one mile where County Road 15 joins County Road 32 (the section called Macedonia Road). There used to be a bridge on County Road 15, locally known as the DeFoor Bridge, but culverts replaced it. There is a bridge on the Macedonia Road about half-way between Haleyville and Double Springs where Clear Creek flows. This prong of the creek goes out to Hwy. 278 as well, this one going under the only bridge on 278 in Winston County west of Double Springs. It is marked as Clear Creek on the bridge with an informational sign, along with a road node number of 006344. The two prongs of Clear Creek (the western and Right Fork) meet about one-half mile south of the Hwy. 278 bridge.
Many small branches and creeks run into Clear Creek, and this causes Clear Creek to widen, just south of Hwy. 278. The following list contains the named branches, streams, and creeks that run directly into, or are tributaries of, Clear Creek: Berry Creek, Big Branch, Black Creek, Bluffy Branch, Burns Creek, Caney Creek (Black Pond), Chambers Branch, Coon Creek, Doe Branch, Georgia Creek, Godsey/Woodall Creek, Little Clear Creek, Masher Branch, Mill Creek (Poplar Springs), Mineral Springs Branch, Mocassin Branch, McDonald Branch, Otter Branch, Persimmon Branch, Pigeonroost Branch, Seymour Branch, Squaw Creek, Tanyard Creek, Ticky Branch, Tig Branch, Webb Branch, Widows Creek, and Wildcat Branch.
County Road 42 dead-ends near the Bailey Ford on Clear Creek. Several hundred yards downstream from the dead-end of County Road 42 is supposedly where a large rock fell down from the bluff into the creek in 1887, probably as a result of the New Madrid fault line. The Advertiser, a Haleyville newspaper, says the following in the July 26, 1957, issue: "The late George Davis was... among the pioneers who remembered the trembling of the west Winston county in 1887 when the huge rock known as the 'fell down bluff' came into the middle of clear creek and which now may be seen north of the Sam Weaver farm." Also, Billy O'Mary was found drowned in Clear Creek on March 7, 2009, about three-quarters of a mile south of the bridge on County Road 25, after being missing for more than a month.
The next bridge and road intersection is down County Road 25 in Double Springs, also known as the Lynn Road. The bridge, built in 1955 at a cost of $31,464, is at the intersections of County Roads 25, 79, and 3049, just east of Mt. Ebron Church. Members used to walk from the church to the creek for baptisms. The bridge was dedicated in September 1955, is 158 feet long, and 36 feet high from the creek bed.
Next is the Kelly Mill area, down County Road 4. The mill was located next to the bridge and was destroyed by a flood in 1948, and the steel bridge was also washed away in a flood in the early 1970s. The current bridge was built in 1974. John Franklin Kelley, Richard Kelley, and Barnabas Kelley built the grist mill here, along with a saw mill. The area where the mill was is still visible, along with remnants of the old bridge. New Hope Church, east of the creek, used to hold baptisms in Clear Creek at this point. Located near New Hope is a USGS gage that measures the water level and flow and can be seen in real-time online: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02450825. According to the gage, placed there in 1980, the highest gage reading was 17.74 feet recorded on January 23, 1999, with a streamflow of 11,500 cubic feet per second.
A few miles from here is where the old town of Motes was located, along with the Godfrey College. Cheatham Road, built by Wyatt Cheatham, ran not far from the old college, and it forded Clear Creek just southwest of here, where he had a plantation and operated a tavern. This is also next to the area referred to as "Alexander Bottoms," where the Alexander family has a picnic area on Clear Creek at the location where Mill Creek flows into Clear Creek. Just north of where Mill Creek empties into Clear Creek, there are pilings from the Cheatham Bridge bolted to the bottom of the creek. This area is where the eighteen year-old Lee Thomas drowned while hunting on December 13, 1983. His body was found very near the pilings of the old bridge two days later.
Clear Creek comes back to Hwy. 195 just north of Poplar Springs and just south of the Black Pond area at the County Road 8 turn-off. The dead-end of County Road 8 also ends at Clear Creek just before it empties into Sipsey. It widens and gets deeper at the Hwy. 195 bridge, and there have been three bridges at this crossing, the last one being replaced and the road re-routed in 1998. Work started on this new bridge on November 15, 1996, with Alabama Bridge Builders of Pinson as the general contractor with a building price of $2,250,000. Not far from here is the Spain's Swimming Hole and Spain's Mill areas, both side by side, on Clear Creek. This is located at the current dead-end of County Road 316 just north of Poplar Springs. Many kids swam, played, and camped here until about 1991 when the owners sold the property. The water flows about two or three inches above glade rocks before dipping straight down on each side, where the mill site was. There is also a good-sized rock on the glade rock, which is perfect for sun-bathing. Spain's Mill was built in the 1890s by Samuel D. Spain and washed away about January 1947. A saw mill, cotton gin, stave mill, and grist mill were all located here.
Spain's Mill is close to another historical point near or perhaps on Clear Creek. During the Civil War, on January 19, 1864, Probate Judge Thomas Pinkney Curtis was captured by Confederate Home Guards, killed, and thrown down a bluff near or in a creek. Some people believe it was Clear Creek.
From Spain's Mill on south and east, Clear Creek widens even more as it flows by County Road 10, at the Camp McDowell area, before it flows into the Sipsey Fork of Smith Lake. Camp McDowell is a private Episcopal camp where people come from all over the southeast. As can be seen in the photos, they have a swinging bridge across Clear Creek.
Clear Creek from this point on flows toward the eastern side of the county, past the area of Falls City right before it empties into Sipsey Fork, the area of Smith Lake. Sipsey, as in the Chickasaw and Choctaw name of Sipsi that means poplar, flows into the Black Warrior River System.
Alabama 1823 State Map, from the Alabama Maps Web Site's Historical Map Archive, Main Author: Henry Schenck Tanner
"Falls City: A History of Development and Demise" by Elizabeth L. McCandless
"Record of Appointment of Postmasters (1832 - September 30, 1971)" Microfilm
Acts of Alabama, 1826, Act 26, Section 27
Telephone Interview with Jim Manasco, 3/31/2008
Burns, Jerry M. The History of the Clear Creek Baptist Association 1874 - 1957. Unpublished, 1957.
Carto-Craft Road and Recreational Map with Topography on Bankhead National Forest and Winston County including the Sipsey Wilderness and Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area
Poynor, David T. "Bridge Under Construction." Daily Mountain Eagle 5/19/1998.
No Author Listed. "A Massive Search Finds Missing Youth, Drowned in Clear Creek." Northwest Alabamian 12/19/1983.
No Author Listed. "New Bridge Under Construction on Macedonia Road." Northwest Alabamian 1/5/1994.
Fell, Chad. "Missing Man Found Dead in Clear Creek." Northwest Alabamian 3/11/2009.
Weaver, Ben H. "Cheatham Highway Tales" as part of "Heritage of the Hills" series. Northwest Alabamian 12/23/1974.
Black Warrior Tributaries from www.riversofalabama.org
No Author Listed. "The Late George Davis." The Advertiser 7/26/1957.
No Author Listed. "Kelly Mill Equipped to Grind Wheat." The Winston Herald. 10/22/1937.
Interview with Darryal Jackson, 4/3/2008
Interview with Rick Harris, 4/5/2008
Interview with Dianne Miller, 4/5/2008
Interview with Amy Dodd, 4/10/2008
Interview with Paul D. "Chad" Plumb, Winston County Engineer, 4/11/2008
Interview with Don Dodd, 7/15/2007 & 4/11/2008
Interview with Glen Jones, 4/11/2008
Canoe Trip with Don Dodd, Justin Rowe, and Jim Richards, 4/23/2008
Interview with Myra Moore, 4/23/2008
Dodd, Donald B. and Wynelle S. Dodd. Winston: An Antebellum and Civil War History of a Hill County of North Alabama. Part of "Annals of Northwest Alabama" Vol. 4, compiled by Carl Elliott (1972). Oxmoor Press, Birmingham, AL, 1972.
Winston County GIS Web Site, http://www.alabamagis.com/winston/
USGS Real-Time Water Data, http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=02450825
United States Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System, http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic
Interview with Treva Hood by E-mail, 5/8/2008
Interview with Gary White by E-mail, 3/19/2009
Interview with George Porter, 5/28/2008
Falls City article, Mountain Eagle, 4/17/1907