We can all agree: The small towns in Kentucky are the heartbeat of our state. There is something special about these communities that keeps residents loving and living life within the borders. Some have been recognized in past
articles, but there are plenty more that deserve mention.
Here are 13 special small towns in Kentucky with populations between 1,000 and 2,800:
Stearns is home to the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, the Blue Heron Interpretive Center, McCreary Country Museum, Barthell Coal Camp, and some of the Daniel Boone National Forest. It has a population of 1,416 with lots of scenic beauty and friendly people.
In 1781, Pineville was known as Cumberland Ford, and it is one of the oldest established towns in Kentucky. The name officially became Pineville in 1870. It has a population of 1,845, which is kept safe by a chain that is said to “hold the mountain back.” Decades ago, a huge boulder that hung over the town was deemed a threat. A chain was attached to prevent the boulder from crushing the town, just in case it ever broke free.
Today this community has a population of 1,189, but back in the 1830s it was known as Little Yellow Banks , as Owensboro was initially called Yellow Banks. The first settler tried to name the town Prentisport, after himself, James Prentis. Next he chose to name the town after Dr. John Lewis, which was approved and came to pass in 1839.
Established in 1826, Jamestown was initially known as Jacksonville, after General Andrew Jackson. The name was changed due to an anti-Jacksonian party conspiracy and became Jamestown. Today it is a peaceful, yet thriving small town with a population of 1,792.
The land tracts used for Irvington were purchased in 1887, and the L&N railroad was built and running through by 1888. Today this historic railroad town has a population of 1,190.
This has been part of coal country in Kentucky. It has a population of 1,693, and many are or were miners, or having a miner lineage. It was known as Bloody Harlan due to an incident in May 1931, when the battle between union and non union miners boiled over. The miners went on strike and the authorities moved in. Four were killed. Afterword, some unconventional tactics were taken to break the strike.
The small town of Guthrie has a population of 1,435 and has been a city since the 1800s. In the 1840s, Guthrie was home to the Pondy Woods stagecoach stop, and was possibly referred to as “State Line”. This was due to its close proximity to the TN state line. The name was changed to Guthrie after James Guthrie, President of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1867.The town was incorporated in 1876.
The community of Falmouth was settled around 1780, and was possibly called Forks of Licking, due to where the rivers met. The name was later changed to Falmouth, by John Waller, after his former home in Falmouth Virginia. The town currently has a population of 2,154.
This is a peaceful community with a population of 1,575. Edmonton is the Metcalfe County seat in the southern part of the state. The people are friendly and it makes for a quiet little getaway.
This small town with a population of 1,157 was once deemed Joe’s Landing, as it was founded by a gent named Joe Huston in 1798. It was renamed in 1828 and a ferry was opened along a portion of clover Creek and the Ohio. It was the site of an L&N railroad shop and passenger service until 1958.
With a population of 2,609, Cadiz is a little larger than some towns on this list, but it has earned its place. Highway 68 leads you through this town of stone walls, rows of trees, and tobacco barns with brightly colored quilt patterns painted on the front and sides. It is part of Kentucky’s history and offers visitors both natural beauty and the beauty of live Bluegrass Music and the Lakeland Jamboree or Jim’s Music Store. It is also known to serve up some fine country ham.
With a population of 2,298, Buffalo is a quiet place to consider home in Kentucky. The rolling hills and thick forests have farms and small town community feel. This is not the place for you if you like the big city, but for a little serenity, it is perfect.
With a population of 1,189, this is one of the small town treasures in Kentucky. It was founded in the 1790s by Captain Phillip Buckner via a Revolutionary War land grant. He named the town after his home, Augusta in Virginia. It is home to one of the longest running ferry services along the Ohio River, which was founded in the 1790s as well.
If you grew up in one of the small towns in Kentucky, you know just how special life can be. The history of these communities runs deep, as does the comradely. What small towns do you think deserve recognition?