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Perry County

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Buckhorn Lake

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Oliver Hazard  Perry
Aug. 23 1785-Aug. 23 1819

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Elk roaming the hillsides at Buckhorn Lake

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Perry County is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Although Daniel  Boone had traveled through this region, it was settled in 1790 by Elijah Combs and his brothers. The county was formed in 1821 and was named after Oliver Hazard Perry, a hero of the 1812 War. In 1824, the settlement was named Perry County Court House. By 1854, the settlement had increased to a large enough population to warrant a change in name. The residents chose Hazard to also commerate Oliver Hazard Perry.

After the Civil War,  there was an increase in migration to the surrounding areas and because Hazard was located on the Kentucky River, it became a natural port for supplies. By 1912, Hazard was still a two horse town with a few dirt streets which became mudholes when it rained, but the hollows were being populated by the Combs, Wootons, Jents, and many more. In 1912, a railroad was completed to Hazard. This changed the dynamics, because people from the outside could now have an easy passage to the mountains and Hazard became the focal point. News had spread about the amount of  money being made by working at Hazard and as a result, people from all over flocked to the city. In eight years, Hazard had grown to over four thousand. In the meantime, bridges had to be constructed from Hazard proper across the river to the new depot. The original courthouse had burned down and a new one was constructed. It was the pride of the mountains.

There was a building boom. Stores of all descriptions, restaurants, two hotels, a bank, movie houses, and of course a few taverns were now lining the main street. More and more streets were being completed for residential and business use. Hazard had suddenly appeared out of no where to become the "Queen City of the Mountains".

Kentucky Highway 15 was completed from Winchester to Whitesburg. Prior to that, it used to take days to haul supplies by oxen teams from Virginia. Now it was only a matter of hours. Greyhound Bus lines had a station in Hazard and bus service by several companies was being used throughout the mountain region with Hazard as the main terminal.

Coal camps sprung up from almost every hollow along the railroad line from Hazard to Vicco. Just to name a few, they were Glomawr, Kenmont, Defiance, Scuddy, and four at Vicco. With the coming of these mines, there were stores, postofffices, churches, and schools. Vicco was now a town with a population of two thousand. If any one wanted to see a little action, Vicco was the place. The whole area was thriving and growing.

Everything was going great until the Great Depression. It was as if Perry County had suddenly hit a brick wall. The prices of coal hit rock bottom and the mines stopped hiring and soon started to lay off workers. Unemployment hit the entire region and welfare offices became the norm. A new name for welfare was coined, "Happy Pappy". Coal Mining was the only industry for the region and it slowly began to disappear. Hazard went from a population of seven to five thousand and Vicco disolved into a small town of three hundred that is a far cry from its heyday. It is down but not out.

The new Highway 15 has bypassed all the coal camps and what once was a beautiful Carr Creek is now a muddy little stream.

Hazard has been shamefully used for years by politicians running for office to showcase poverty. They come and use the courthouse steps to promote their campaigns. After the gladhanding and posing for television cameras, they go on their way and Hazard has once again been forgotten.

Hazard is now being revitalized and once again it is on its way up. Tourism is being used as the next industry and with the help of its citizens, it will succeed.

When you visit Perry County, do not be surprised if you are greeted with a big smile and a warm welcome. This is the mountain way.


Did you know: Highway 7 is 102 miles long and goes from Jeff to South Portsmouth on the Ohio River?


The Louvin Brothers
Charlie and Ira Laudermilk
Better known by their adopted name, Louvin

Louvin Brothers

Kentucky you are the dearest land outside of Heaven to me
Kentucky your laurels and your red bud trees
When I die I want to rest upon your graceful mountain so high
Kentucky that is where God will look for me

Kentucky I miss the voices singing in the silvery moonlight
Kentucky I miss the hound dog chasing coon
I know that my mother dad & sweetheart all are waiting for me
Kentucky I will be coming soon

Kentucky you are the dearest land outside of Heaven to me
Kentucky I will be coming soon


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