Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Muhlenberg County (/ˈmjuːlənbɜːrɡ/) is a county in the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. As of the 2020 census, the population was 30,928.[1] Its county seat is Greenville and its largest city is Central City.[2]

Muhlenberg County
Muhlenberg County Courthouse in Greenville
Map of Kentucky highlighting Muhlenberg County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 37°13′N 87°09′W / 37.21°N 87.15°W / 37.21; -87.15
Country United States
State Kentucky
Founded1798
Named forPeter Muhlenberg
SeatGreenville
Largest cityCentral City
Government
 • Judge/ExecutiveWilliam "Mack" McGehee
Area
 • Total479 sq mi (1,240 km2)
 • Land467 sq mi (1,210 km2)
 • Water12 sq mi (30 km2)  2.6%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total30,928
 • Estimate 
(2022)
30,455 Decrease
 • Density65/sq mi (25/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district2nd
Websitewww.muhlenbergcountyky.org

History edit

Muhlenberg County was formed in 1798 from the areas known as Logan and Christian counties.[3] Muhlenberg was the 34th county to be founded in Kentucky.[4] Muhlenberg was named after General Peter Muhlenberg, who was a colonial general during the American Revolutionary War.[5]

Geography edit

According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has an area of 479 square miles (1,240 km2), of which 467 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 12 square miles (31 km2) (2.6%) is water.[6]

Features edit

The two primary aquatic features of Muhlenberg County are the Green River and Lake Malone. The northern area of the county's geography includes gently rolling hills, river flatlands, and some sizeable bald cypress swamps along Cypress Creek and its tributaries. The southern portion consists of rolling hills with higher relief. The southern part of the county is dotted with deep gorges. This area is known for many sandstone formations. Several north-south-oriented faults cross the county's midpoint. Coal is found in these faults, across the county's central part. Most remaining deposits reside deep underground; previous near-surface deposits have now been exhausted by strip mining. In former years, it was common to see machines such as the "Big Brother" Power Shovel (pictured on the right) throughout the county. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Muhlenberg County was the state leader in coal production and sometimes the top coal producer in the United States. Strip mining was criticized in the song "Paradise" by John Prine.[7]

 
The Bucyrus Erie 3850-B Power Shovel named "Big Brother" went to work next door to Paradise Fossil Plant for Peabody Coal Company's Sinclair Surface Mine in 1962. When it started work it was received with grand fanfare and was the largest shovel in the world with a bucket size of 115 cubic yards. After it finished work in the mid-1980s, it was buried in a pit on the mine's property, where it remains.

Sandstone is the county's most abundant rock type, although limestone becomes more common toward the southern area of the county. Two mines for extracting iron ore have been attempted, at Airdrie on the banks of the Green River, and at Buckner Furnace south of Greenville, Kentucky. Both iron ore mines were extant in the late 19th century and early 20th century; neither were successful.

Green River edit

The 300 miles (483 km)-long Green River is a tributary of the Ohio River. It provides a commercial outlet for goods (primarily coal) to be shipped from the county to the major trade centers along the Mississippi River.

Lake Malone edit

Lake Malone (788 acres (3.19 km2)) is in southern Muhlenberg County near Dunmor. It, and a portion of the surrounding hardwood forest, form Lake Malone State Park, maintained by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The lake's surface extends into two neighboring counties, Todd and Logan. There are sandstone cliffs and natural sandstone formations along the lake shore including a natural bridge, although the bridge itself is not inside the park boundary.

Adjacent counties edit

Demographics edit

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18001,293
18104,181223.4%
18204,97919.1%
18305,3407.3%
18406,96430.4%
18509,80940.9%
186010,7259.3%
187012,63817.8%
188015,09819.5%
189017,95518.9%
190020,74115.5%
191028,59837.9%
192033,35316.6%
193037,78413.3%
194037,554−0.6%
195032,501−13.5%
196027,791−14.5%
197027,537−0.9%
198032,23817.1%
199031,318−2.9%
200031,8391.7%
201031,499−1.1%
202030,928−1.8%
2022 (est.)30,455[8]−1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2020[1]

As of the census of 2010, there were 31,499 people, 12,979 households, and 9,057 families residing in the county. The population density was 67 per square mile (26/km2). There were 13,675 housing units at an average density of 29 per square mile (11/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 94.19% White, 4.65% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The median income for a household in the county was $28,566. 15.50% of families and 19.70% of the population was below the poverty line, including 26.00% of those under age 18 and 17.00% of those age 65 or over.[13]

Economy edit

 
Paradise Combined Cycle Plant sits close to the original site of the village of Paradise, Kentucky. Originally a coal-fired plant, the plant was the second largest coal-fired plant operated by TVA with a capacity of 2,630 megawatts. The plant now burns natural gas, and has a capacity of 1,025 MW.

Muhlenberg County has been a major coal-producing region for the United States for many years; during most of the 1970s, Muhlenberg County annually produced more coal than anywhere else in the country.[14] Although coal mining in the county waned in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the 21st century began, the coal-mining industry in Muhlenberg and surrounding counties began to expand and has once again provided a significant number of jobs in the region. One reason for this is the willingness of utility operators to install flue gas cleaning systems so that bituminous coal can be burned with fewer airborne contaminants. Another reason is that most coal from the western US has a lower BTU content.

Muhlenberg County held Kentucky's first commercial coal mine, opened in 1820 as the "McLean Drift Bank" along the Green River in the former village of Paradise. The mine and its impact on the community are referenced in the John Prine song "Paradise". Other major employers in Muhlenberg County include:

Chamber of commerce edit

In January 2006, the chambers of commerce from Central City and Greenville merged to form the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce representing over 155 local businesses.[16]

Incoming industries edit

Peabody Energy's proposed Thoroughbred Energy Plant, a coal-burning power generation facility expected to bring 450 permanent jobs to the area, was to be located in Central City.[17] The plant was projected to begin electricity generation in 2007,[18] but a dispute over Peabody's air quality permit halted construction plans.[19] The power plant plans have now been scrapped, as was a later partnership between Peabody Energy and ConocoPhillips Oil Company called "Kentucky NewGas".[20]

Education edit

Schools edit

Public schools in Muhlenberg County are operated by the Muhlenberg County Board of Education. They include:

Elementary (K-5) edit

  • Bremen Elementary School in Bremen
  • Central City Elementary School in Central City
  • Greenville Elementary School in Greenville (Kentucky)
  • Longest Elementary School in Powderly
  • Muhlenberg South Elementary School in Beechmont

Middle (6-8) edit

  • Muhlenberg North Middle School in Powderly
  • Muhlenberg South Middle School in Greenville

High (9-12) edit

Postsecondary edit

Former schools edit

  • Drakesboro Elementary School in Drakesboro (closed in 2006)
  • Graham Elementary School in Graham (closed in 2004)
  • Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School in Beechmont (closed in 2006)
  • Lake Malone Elementary School in Dunmor (closed in 2005)
  • Muhlenberg North High School (closed in 2009)
  • Muhlenberg South High School (closed in 2009)

Libraries edit

  • Harbin Memorial Library in Greenville is a public library, with free access to high-speed internet
  • Central City Library in Central City is a public library, with free access to high-speed internet.

These libraries are operated as Muhlenberg County Public Libraries.

Thistle Cottage Genealogy and History Annex in Greenville also operates under the umbrella of Muhlenberg County Public Libraries as a museum and history archive.

History of education edit

At one time the county hosted eight secondary schools. Drakesboro Community closed after the class of 1964 graduated and in 1990, the school board consolidated the middle and high school students into two middle and two high schools. Bremen High School, Central City High School, Graham High School, and half of Muhlenberg Central High School became Muhlenberg North Middle School and Muhlenberg North High School, while the other half of Muhlenberg Central High School, Drakesboro High School, Hughes-Kirkpatrick High School, Greenville High School, and Lake Malone School (which housed some middle school students) became Muhlenberg South Middle School and Muhlenberg South High School. The eight distinct schools continued to house elementary school students.

In 2004, the school board began consolidating the elementary schools, closing Graham Elementary School and transferring students to Longest Elementary Greenville Elementary Schools; closing Lake Malone School and transferring students to Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary School. In 2005 Drakesboro Elementary School was closed, with students first attending Hughes-Kirkpatrick Elementary and then Muhlenberg South Elementary School (2006). Hughes-Kirkpatrick was later closed.

Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South High Schools were merged into a single Muhlenberg County High School in June 2009.

Media edit

Muhlenberg County is located in the southernmost fringes of the Evansville, Indiana television market, and is primarily served by the television stations in that city. However, a few television stations in Bowling Green and Nashville are offered on local cable television systems in the county.

Radio stations edit

Print and online edit

  • Times Argus (1909) Central City
  • Leader-News established in Greenville, now located in Central City

Sites of interest edit

  • Lake Malone State Park in Dunmor
  • Muhlenberg County Rail to Trails, 6-mile (9.7 km) converted railroad track between Central City and Greenville
  • Brewco Motorsports shop in Central City
  • Thistle Cottage, a museum and art gallery in Greenville (now part of Muhlenberg County Public Libraries)
  • Four Legends Fountain in Drakesboro
  • Muhlenberg County Agriculture and Convention Center in Powderly
  • Morgan Memorial Park in Greenville
  • The Muhlenberg County Park, a sports facility adjacent to the Muhlenberg County High School west campus in Greenville
  • The Brizendine Brothers Nature Park in Greenville
  • Luzerne Lake City Park in Greenville
  • Paradise Park in Powderly, includes:
    • Coal Mines Shotgun House
    • Merle Travis Birthplace
    • Paradise Park Museum
    • Springridge School
  • Tennessee Valley Authority Paradise Fossil Plant in Drakesboro, one of the nation's largest Coal-Fired Power Plants. Site includes:
    • Public Boat Launch Ramp along the Green River
    • Public Fishing Lakes
    • Historic Village of Paradise Cemetery, the only remnant of the village along the Green River.

Central City Convention Center, Fitness Facility and Outdoor Pool & Spray Park in Central City

  • Muhlenberg County Courthouse (1907) in Greenville
  • Muhlenberg County Veterans Mall and Plaza in Greenville
  • Lt. Ephraim Brank Memorial & Trail, at Greenville's Veteran's Mall
  • The Pillars of Community have enhanced the beauty of downtown Greenville by adding "Art to Restoration". The locations include:
    • FAITH – United Methodist Church on North Main Street
    • FAMILY – Across from the MCTI Theater on North Main Street
    • ENTERPRISE – Between Edward Jones Investments & 1st KY Bank
    • PATRIOTISM – At the United States Post Office on Courts Street
    • EDUCATION – In front of Greenville Elementary School on East Main Cross
    • ARTS – In front of Thistle Cottage on Cherry Street
    • HEALTH – In front of Muhlenberg Community Hospital
    • TEAMWORK – At Martin Ground along East Main Cross
  • Historic Gristmill Stone, adjacent to the Veterans Mall at the Muhlenberg County Courthouse
  • The Summerhouse, a gazebo in Greenville

Politics edit

Muhlenberg County was a Democratic-leaning county until after 2000, when it, along with the rest of Kentucky, swung hard into the right. Donald Trump's performance in 2016 was the best for any Republican in the county's history, when he won nearly 72% of the county's vote. This was surpassed four years later in 2020, when Trump carried 73.7% of the vote.

United States presidential election results for Muhlenberg County, Kentucky[21][22]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 10,497 73.74% 3,545 24.90% 193 1.36%
2016 9,393 71.92% 3,272 25.05% 395 3.02%
2012 7,762 60.93% 4,771 37.45% 206 1.62%
2008 6,447 50.02% 6,221 48.27% 221 1.71%
2004 6,749 50.07% 6,636 49.23% 94 0.70%
2000 5,518 46.15% 6,295 52.65% 143 1.20%
1996 3,569 31.35% 6,564 57.65% 1,253 11.00%
1992 3,551 27.08% 7,901 60.25% 1,662 12.67%
1988 5,369 43.57% 6,912 56.09% 41 0.33%
1984 6,094 49.64% 6,157 50.15% 26 0.21%
1980 4,893 41.80% 6,616 56.52% 197 1.68%
1976 4,292 37.49% 7,058 61.65% 99 0.86%
1972 5,596 62.33% 3,246 36.16% 136 1.51%
1968 3,853 39.52% 3,688 37.83% 2,209 22.66%
1964 3,300 33.88% 6,421 65.92% 20 0.21%
1960 5,968 57.41% 4,427 42.59% 0 0.00%
1956 5,323 52.64% 4,752 46.99% 38 0.38%
1952 4,761 48.52% 5,037 51.34% 14 0.14%
1948 3,478 42.63% 4,426 54.25% 254 3.11%
1944 4,618 55.61% 3,657 44.04% 29 0.35%
1940 5,332 50.78% 5,140 48.95% 28 0.27%
1936 4,168 39.22% 6,385 60.08% 75 0.71%
1932 4,349 37.39% 7,162 61.58% 119 1.02%
1928 6,651 56.22% 5,130 43.36% 49 0.41%
1924 5,210 49.76% 4,379 41.82% 882 8.42%
1920 6,667 56.73% 4,824 41.04% 262 2.23%
1916 3,533 53.52% 2,900 43.93% 168 2.55%
1912 1,038 18.55% 2,093 37.40% 2,465 44.05%

Communities edit

Cities edit

Census-designated places edit

Unincorporated communities edit

Ghost towns edit

Notable people edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Welcome - Muhlenberg County, Kentucky". www.muhlenbergcounty.ky.gov. Archived from the original on February 18, 2013.
  4. ^ Collins, Lewis (1882). Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2. Collins & Co. p. 26.
  5. ^ The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 36.
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  7. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Paradise by John Prine". YouTube.
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ "Iconic plant's end spells doom for struggling coal industry". Associated Press. April 20, 2021.
  15. ^ "Major Employers in Muhlenberg County Kentucky". mafp.us. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014.
  16. ^ Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce - Message from the President Archived May 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Peabody Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "News Releases". phx.corporate-ir.net. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2006.
  19. ^ Bruggers, James (August 8, 2007). "Ruling delays power plant in Western Ky". The Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  20. ^ "Kentucky NewGas — zeroco2". www.zeroco2.no. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015.
  21. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Archived from the original on March 23, 2018.
  22. ^ The leading "other" candidate, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, received 1,699 votes, while Socialist candidate Eugene Debs received 766 votes.
  23. ^ Kentucky basketball roster for 1960-61, http://www.bigbluehistory.net/bb/Statistics/roster1960-61.html
  24. ^ Pegues, Albert Witherspoon (1892). "Rev. C. C. Stumm". Our Baptist Ministers and Schools. Willey & Company. pp. 472–481.

External links edit

37°13′N 87°09′W / 37.21°N 87.15°W / 37.21; -87.15