Prehistoric man arrived in this area bout 10,000 years ago.
Later Indian cultures left many stone artifacts and pottery vessels.
In the 1780s, a French trading post and Indian village were located near the mouth of Spring Creek. The town of York Bluff was laid out in 1820 and Andrew Jackson brought land for a plantation. A few houses and store were built but that "town" dwindled away. In 1832, the first railroad in the state terminated at Tuscumbia Landing near Spring Creek. Large bands of Cherokees and Creek left there on the Trail of Tears during the forced Indian Removal of the 1830s.
During the Civil War, opposing armies often marched through the area and the river bridge was burned. In 1883, Alfred Moses and Walter Gordon purchased 2,700 acres of land and created the Sheffield Land, Iron, and Coal company to hold a land sale and build an industrial city. The city, named in honor of Sheffield, England, was incorporated in 1885, with Moses as mayor. Five blast furnaces were erected on Furnace Hill and operated until 1926.
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Sheffield became a railroad center with lines running in four directions and the Southern Railroad shops provided many jobs.
Electric streetcars (1904-1933) connected Sheffield to Tuscumbia and Florence. In 1918, the U.S. Army built two big nitrate plants near the city and began construction of Wilson Dam. President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited these properties in 1933 and 1934. Then production, fertilizer research, and production of munitions. Reynolds Metals produced aluminum for national defense (1941-1945). The bell-shaped Village One, built in 1918 as part of U.S. Nitrate Plant No. 1, was annexed in 1950. Local studios, including Music Shoals Sound at 3614 Jackson Highway, produced hit records by well-known artists during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of Sheffield's historic homes, buildings and sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city's rich history is complemented by its high river bluffs, standpipe, champion walnut trees and open green spaces.