Welcome to Hazard

The Queen City of the Mountains

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Cumberland Falls, Cumberland

Buckhorn Lake State Park, Buckhorn

Dale Hollow Lake, Clay City

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Several of the images that are used on these pages were taken from hazardkentucky.com.  This website is the very best for a photographic picture of Hazard and Perry County. Please visit it.

When one travels Southeast from Lexington, he can see the mountains on the horizon. Before he realizes it, he is on the Kentucky Parkway skimming over the mountains at sixty-five miles an hour. At Campton, he turns on Ky. 15, now a super highway, and, barely letting up on the gas, heads for Jackson and Hazard. At last, he arrives at Hazard. How much time did it take him? About one and half hours.

The travelers today do not realize that this used to take us about four hours before this super highway was built. They miss all the curves and the ups and downs going over the mountains at top speed of 35 mph. On every curve in the road, and there were hundreds, a sign would remind the driver that the speed was 35 miles an hour.  Anyone who traveled old Rt. 15 remembers Jackson Mountain where the highway went around the same house three times and the wreckage below. When he reached the top and down the other side, he would see rooftops of houses built next to the highway. There were no guard rails. The super highway also by passes all the small communities that made Perry and Breathitt Counties; towns like Dwarf, Dice, Rowdy, Hardshell, and Lost Creek. There would be children sitting on porches waving at cars going by. Progress can be wonderful for a lot of people, but for the sake of progress a lot of other people have suffered immeasureably. The new route destroyed the Mom and Pop businesses that depended on people shopping at their stores while going through.This was the route that paralleled the North Fork of the Kentucky River. For over a hundred years, barges from the Ohio River made their way up the Kentucky River and eventually to Hazard bringing in supplies.

1937 Coal Carnival

Fouts Drug Store

Hazard is the county seat of Perry County. It is the hub of the Kentucky Mountains. When I was young it was teeming with excitement. Going to Hazard was a treat at any time. Hazard in my youth was much different than it is now. In 1937, my mother and father brought me to Hazard to see the Coal Carnival. I faintly remember that they had a great time. I remember the stage show that we saw. It had a lot of white-faced mimes that looked like dead people going across the stage. I was terrified and it haunted me for years. The next time was when my father took me to  Mount Mary Hospital to have a physical exam. That was the first time that I met a black child. He offered me a piece of his Baby Ruth candy bar. I didn’t take it at first, but with some prompting from my father, I took a piece. The little boy and I didn’t know anything about segregation. To my father, there was no difference between white and blacks. Bus fare from Scuddy on the Hazard-Jenkins Line was five cents for children five years and younger and ten cents for any one older. One day, when my father got back from Hazard, he told us about a man who was trying to get his son a five cents fare. The bus driver asked the man how old was his son. The man said that he was five. The youngster spoke up and said in a loud voice," I are eight, I are eight". Everyone on the bus was laughing. Dad wanted to know why the man would lie for five cents.

When Robert Wadlow came to Hazard, my father and brother Fred went to see him. When they got back, Fred was full of excitement about seeing him and telling how tall he was. He was taller than a train engine. While living on Scuddy, my brothers and I were too young to go to Hazard on our own. When we moved to Glomawr in 1943, we were only three miles away and old enough to walk the distance.

Movies in those days were ten cents and popcorn was five cents. The deposit on coke bottles was two cents. That meant if we could collect thirty-five bottles during the week, the four of us, Marcus, Fred, Baxter, and I would have enough money to see the movies and buy two bags of popcorn, and twenty cents left to ride the train home. Quite often we were able to find enough bottles. I believe that the two movie houses that were in Hazard were The Virginia and Family theaters. Sometimes, Dad would give us extra money and we could splurge on a hot dog and a coke at Fouts' Drug Store. This was heaven on earth. I have tried to explain to people that Kentucky hot dogs were different from anywhere else. They always came with homemade chile with no beans and when you bit into one, the chile would run down the sides of your mouth. The dogs were so juicy and the flavor was awesome. One night we got out of the movie a little late and went running as fast as we could go to catch the last train. We were huffing and puffing, doing our very best. Three of us had it made, but Fred wasn't able to keep up with us. The train was just pulling out when he finally caught up. Normally we would have walked the train tracks to Lothair, but it meant that you had to go through a tunnel and it wasn't a safe thing to do after dark. Instead of it being two miles to Glowmar, now it was three. We got home later than usual, but Dad understood.

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The old Courthouse Whittlers enjoying some real good banjo picking

When you walked the streets of Hazard in those days, you would walk past the courthouse with the steps and benches full of men whittling away and talking politics. The saying was that the county needed a sweeper to pick up all the chips around the steps. A little ways down the street was the bus station with buses going almost to every town around. They were the Hazard-Hyden, Hazard-Leatherwood, Hazard-Harlan, Hazard-Blackey, and Hazard-Paintsvile. The Greyhound Bus Line made several trips a day to Lexington. The Acme Taxi station was near the bus station with the drivers wanting to know if you need a ride. A taxi to Scuddy was a quarter if you waited for other riders or seventy-five cents for a special trip; meaning that he would take you alone. You could go a little further to Fout's Drug Store and buy a dope (soda ) for five cents. On the corner of Main and the street that went over the bridge to the railroad station was a beer joint, where a local band would be singing Roy Acuff's song, "Wreck on the Highway". Sitting in the booths would be three or four customers crying in their beer.

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Man on the Street Hazard born and raised, George Davis Robert Wadlow, the tallest person in the world

I went away to Mount Carmel high school at Vancleve, Ky. in 1945. I was there from eighth grade through high school. I stayed there year round for four years and was not able to visit Hazard until I finished my junior year. I took the summer off that year to come to visit my family at Jeff. Hazard then had WKIC and George Davis. I was seventeen at the time and I would come to Hazard on the pretext of looking for a job. I came to see this man sing and watch the radio shows in the basement of the bank building. I was able to see George in person at the grocery store on Main Street that was sponsoring him. He always had a raffle for a bag of groceries and one day I was the lucky winner. When I gave him my number, he started asking me a few questions about myself and I could hardly answer him. I also won a six pack of Coke from the Man on the Street. He was there five days a week for a half hour talking to people walking by.

I went back to school and finished my senior year and went into the Air Force for twenty years and seldom was able to visit Hazard except passing through. I visited Hazard for the last time in 1998 when my wife and I visited my mother’s grave at Scuddy. We came by the way of US Highway 23 from Ashland to a litle town named Allen. The road was as bad as any highway could be. We got on Rt. 80 and had a good trip into Hazard. I was lost. I took Bypass 15 to Motel 8 to get a room for the night. Was I shocked! Bypass 15 was carved from a mountianside. Of all the businesses that was located near the highway, the one that impresed me was the motel built high on the mountain. The lady at the motel gave me directions to Hazard. When I came into the city, I could not believe what I was seeing. There was nothing that I could recognize. There was a huge sign hanging across Main Street saying that this is a D.A.R.E. city. I was devastated. Not here in the heart of Appalachia! Then, I found out later that drugs are rampant in the area. We drove further and instead of seeing the old courthouse, was a new courthouise that was beautiful but could not replace the nostalgia that I had for the old one. The theaters were gone. What I thought in my youth was a long walk down Main Street was now just two honks on the car horn. On the other end were a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut. All the stone buildings were gone. We stopped at McDonalds for a cup of coffee and went back to our motel. The next morning, we went to Scuddy to see my Mother’s grave.

I could not find Scuddy. There was nothing but the highway with bushes on both sides. In fact, we did not see any houses until we passed Jeff. Carr Creek, once a large river, was now filled with bare rocks with not much water. I missed all the towns, Happy, Defiance, and Scuddy, that I used to travel through from Scuddy to Hazard. Not being familiar with the highway, I drove by Scuddy and came into Vicco. This was another shock. What once was a bustling little city was now nothing but rundown dusty little town. This was a great disappointment. We drove back toward Jeff trying to find Scuddy. I stopped at a grocery store and asked the lady where is Scuddy. She said go to the next road on the right and it will take you up the hollow. We drove up the hollow on a road that was now paved but still only one lane, but did recognize a lot of the houses. On the way down, I stopped at the house where I was born to take some pictures. I knocked on the door and a lady in her sixties came out. I introduced myself and we discovered that we were cousins. Like a lot of the of the people in the mountains, she had been listening to gospel music on the radio. I asked about some of my childhood friends. I found out that they were either dead or had moved away. My wife noticed the silence. Not a sound! I told my wife that this was not unusual in the mountains. It was about ten o’clock and my wife asked me what I wanted to do. I told her that I wanted to leave and go back home that day. I wanted to remember Hazard and Scuddy as they were in my youth. I have not been back. It is true what one once wrote, "You can never go home again"

I realize that a city has to grow and change to reamain viable. If I had lived in Hazard all of my life, I probably would never have noticed the changes. It was a shock to see them all at once.

I will always love being from Hazard.

 

The Dixon Brothers Vol 2 1937

The Dixon Brothers
Dorsey Dixon 1897-1968
Wrote the song in 1938. Never received any credit or money for it.

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Wreck on the Highway
Made famous by Roy Acuff 1942


Who did you say it was, brother?
Who was it fell by the way?
When whiskey and blood run together
Did you hear anyone pray?

Their names I'm not able to tell you,
But here is one thing I can say:
There were whiskey and blood mixed together,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

When I heard the crash on the highway,
I knew what it was from the start;
I went to the scene of destruction
A picture was stamped on my heart.
Whiskey and glass all together,
Was mixed up with blood where they lay.
Death played her hand in destruction,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I wish I could change this sad story
That I am now telling you;
But there is no way I can change it,
Somebody's life is now through.
Their soul has been nursed by the Master,
They died in a crash on their way.
I heard the groans of the dying,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

Give up the game an' stop drinking,
For Jesus is pleading with you.
It cost him a lot in redeeming,
Redeeming the promise for you.
Hit'll [sic] be too late if tomorrow
You'll fall by a crash by the way,
With whiskey and blood all around you,
And you can't hear nobody pray.

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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