Leeds, Alabama is a tri-county municipality located in Jefferson, St. Clair, and Shelby counties in Alabama. Leeds is an eastern suburb of Birmingham. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 11,773.
Leeds Alabama History
Lying at the crossroads of desecrated ancient Native-American paths in the center of Alabama, Leeds drew European and African-American settlers to a land of fertile growing seasons and rich sources of coal and mineral ore. The Standard Portland Cement manufacturing plant was constructed in Leeds in 1906.
The settlement, dating to 1818 and incorporating on April 27, 1887 as “Leeds”, has existed along the banks of the Little Cahaba River; beside an historic stagecoach route; and along two large railroads, Georgia Pacific Railway from Birmingham to Atlanta, for the greater part of American History.
Leeds Alabama Events
Leeds Downtown Folk Festival & John Henry Celebration
The tale of John Henry was believed to have originated in Leeds. In this folk story, John Henry, the “steel-drivin’ man”, raced and won against a steam engine in the laying of railroad that penetrated the Oak Mountain.
Based on documentation that corresponds with the account of C.C. Spencer, who claimed in the 1920s to have witnessed the contest, John Garst, retired chemistry professor and folklorist of the University of Georgia, speculates that John Henry may have been a man named Henry who was born a slave to P.A.L. Dabney, the father of the chief engineer of that railroad, in 1850. Since 2007, the city of Leeds has honored John Henry’s legend during an annual festival held on the third weekend in September, the Leeds Downtown Folk Festival & John Henry Celebration.