Clay County was created on December 7, 1866, from land that had belonged to Talladega and Randolph counties. With the tallest mountains in the state on one side and a river on the other side, travel was extremely difficult, so the county was established for geographic reasons. It was named for the 19th-century statesman Henry Clay. The county seat was named for his estate in Kentucky, Ashland.
The mountains and streams of Clay County make it special. It is like a breath of fresh air. Away from the hassle of the big cities and traffic jams, you can hike miles of trails in the Talladega National Forest. It remains one of only three counties in Alabama that do not have a major U.S. highway. Instead, you might meet some Scouts at High Falls on the Odum Scout Trail or someone beginning their excursion on the Appalachian Trail. Others canoe on Hatchet Creek where they stop to see where the Creek Indians ground their corn on a rock. Those who want to do some serious fishing head toward Lake Wedowee that borders the eastern boundary of Clay County.
The Clay County Courthouse sits at the highest elevation of any courthouse in Alabama and is one of the oldest functional court houses in Alabama. Beautiful and majestic, it stands proudly as a testament to history. It is the site where the late Hugo Black, U.S. Supreme Court justice began his law practice.
Clay County has been designated as the Volunteer County. There are 18 volunteer fire departments, and the Clay County Rescue Squad uses volunteers to respond to all types of emergencies. During Desert Storm, Clay County supplied more soldiers per capita than any other county in the nation. Patriotism runs deep here.