An abundance of its creeks and rivers is one of the most distinctive features and greatest natural resources of Alabama. While the state’s streams wander the landscape in many directions, all eventually flow to the coast. A watershed is all the land surrounding a stream that supplies it with surface and ground water throughout the year. With all locations in the state contributing water, sediments and nutrients to a nearby stream, all places in the state are connected to the great Gulf of Mexico to the south.
The rain that falls on Sloss Furnaces and the rest of Jones Valley feeds creeks and streams that are part of the Black Warrior River Watershed. Just to the north of the property is Village Creek, which meanders westward through the northern portion of the Birmingham Metropolitan area. Village joins the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River 18 miles away near the boundary between Jefferson and Walker counties. Just to the southwest of Sloss Furnaces is the Valley Creek watershed, which also meanders westward before joining the Black Warrior River 26 miles away. Both creeks were important sources of water for drinking and industrial use during Birmingham’s early history.
Village and Valley creeks are also significant tributaries to the Black Warrior River which, in turn, is one of the five major rivers that drain the upper portions of the Mobile River Basin (all the lands that drain to Mobile Bay). The Black Warrior watershed lies entirely within northwestern Alabama. The river is formed at the confluence of the Locust Fork and Mulberry Fork, at a point 20 miles west of Birmingham. Farther south, the Black Warrior River joins the Tombigbee River at Demopolis, AL, and the larger Tombigbee continues south and receives the Alabama River just 35 miles north of Mobile, AL.
As a major player in provisioning freshwater to Mobile Bay, the Black Warrior contributes significantly to the health and ecology of Mobile Bay and nearby portions of the Gulf of Mexico. The river and its watershed is home to a considerable number of Alabama’s aquatic residents, historically hosting 119 fish and 51 mussel species. The Black Warrior is also an important source of drinking water for the Birmingham Metropolitan area.