Five Mile Creek
Five Mile Creek (sometimes Fivemile Creek or 5-Mile Creek) drains a large portion of the Warrior Coal Fields in central Jefferson County, north of Birmingham. It arises from a spring near Chalkville (map) and, joined by several other tributary springs, proceeds along a winding course westward, emptying into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River near the Flat Top Mine (map).
The origin of the name is unknown, given that the creek traverses a total course of about 43 miles. One story has it that it was named for a crossing at Center Point that was five miles north of the Ruhama Academy.1.
Because it ran alongside numerous mines and other industrial operations during the growth of industry in the Birmingham District, Five Mile Creek became increasingly polluted from mine tailings and coke processing, earning nicknames like "Chocolate Creek" or "Creosote Creek".
The creek is joined by Tarrant Spring Branch east of Pinson Valley Parkway in a steep, wooded area within the 100-year floodplain that was acquired by the Birmingham Water Works Board in the late 19th century for a planned reservoir that was never constructed. In 1971 the Water Works leased the 600-acre property to the Alabama State Fair Authority for development of a planned amusement park, to be called Fair Park East. That plan never came to fruition, and the property remains undeveloped except for a short-lived picnic area on the western portion near the intersection of Pinson Valley Parkway and Lawson Road.
As commercial and residential development spread into Birmingham's northern suburbs, it often ignored the floodways and flood plains. Flooding from Five Mile Creek caused more and more damage, including a devastating flood in Tarrant in 2000 that destroyed a mobile home park. Tarrant's Fire Chief Billy Hewitt began campaigning to convert the former trailer park into a city park. In 2002 he met with the Wendy Jackson of the Freshwater Land Trust and founded the Five Mile Creek District. The Chief William C. "Billy" Hewitt Park was created on top of the former trailer park in 2006.
In recent years a movement to clean up the creek and restore its scenic qualities and recreational opportunities has gained momentum, with Birmingham, Center Point, Tarrant, Fultondale, Brookside and Graysville all pledging to cooperate with the partnership toward the development of a series of parks and greenways along the course of Five Mile Creek.
Sites along Five Mile Creek
Starting upstream (from the east):
- Barber Springs & Killough Springs, Center Point
- Ketona Lakes/Tarrant
- Boyle's Gap through Sand Mountain
- Coalburg/Upper Coalburg
- Five Mile Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
- Brookside/Brookside Park
- Black Warrior River near Flat Top
Streets running alongside Five Mile Creek
- Old Springville Road
- Marlin Springs Road in Center Point
- Wilkinson Road
- Cherry Avenue/Graysville Road
- Mississippi Street
- Brookside Cardiff Road
Major roads crossing Five Mile Creek
Starting upstream (from the east):
- Center Point Parkway
- Lawson Road near Robinwood ("Slicky Bridge")
- Pinson Valley Parkway
- Springdale Road
- Seaboard Road near the New Boyles Yards
- U.S. Highway 31 in Fultondale
- I-65 in Fultondale
- Coalburg Road
- Republic Road
- Bivens Brookside Road
- U.S. Highway 78 near Linn Crossing
- United States Board on Geographic Names. (February 6, 2006) Quarterly Review List 391 - accessed August 3, 2007
- Rebman, Stephanie (June 24, 2019) "New stretch of Five Mile Creek Greenway opens in Gardendale." Birmingham Business Journal