The city of Bessemer in Jefferson County is located 18 miles southwest of Birmingham. It is inside the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan area which is comprised of over 1 million people. Bessemer is located in the southern section of Jones Valley, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The city is situated along the Interstate 59/20 corridor and is in proximity to the city conveniences of Birmingham and the Mercedes Plant in Vance.
Bessemer was founded in 1887 by the Bessemer Land and Improvement Company. It is known as the Marvel City due to the growth in population it experienced during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the height of the steel manufacturing era, Bessemer was considered stiff competition with Birmingham. The deposits of iron ore, coal and limestone in the area made Bessemer the center of steel producing industry through the 20th century. However, the city began to see a decline as steelmaking in the Birmingham area diminished. Today, while steel is no longer produced in Bessemer, other businesses have located their operations in the city. Companies such as Dollar General, Amsted Rail, and U.S. Pipe have opened facilities in Bessemer.
Every June the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization (CACAO) hosts the annual Caribbean Food and Music Festival in Bessemer. This event is a celebration of Caribbean American Heritage Month and has plenty of cultural food, music and fellowship.
April brings the Annual Bob Sykes Barbecue and Blues Festival with food and music. It has been considered one of the top food events in Alabama.
The Bessemer Civic Center is a hub for events in the city. The center is home to annual events such as the Alabama Numismatic Society Annual Convention and the Annual Alabama Music Awards, both held in July.
Residents and visitors can explore the many area attractions within Bessemer’s city limits. Alabama Adventure and Splash Adventure is an 89-acre water and amusement park. The park has rides, water slides and a designated waterplay section for smaller children.
Bessemer is in driving distance to the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park and Alabama Iron and Steel Museum. The park sits on over 1,500 acres that cross into three counties. It provides an outdoor escape of hiking, camping and outdoor activities. Seasonally, a blacksmith, miller, and craftsmen put on demonstrations for visitors. Every May the park hosts a Gem, Mineral, Fossil and Jewelry Show.
The Bessemer Hall of History gives visitors a glimpse into Bessemer’s past. The museum is in the old Alabama Great Southern Railroad depot and features photos and artifacts detailing Bessemer’s history.