Kentucky August 15, 2021
9 Historic Photos That Show Us What It Was Like Living In Kentucky In The Early 1900s
The Bluegrass State is a place with deep roots and culture. Kentuckians are proud of their history and heritage, and that’s evidenced by our
well-preserved sites and charming small towns. Today we’re taking a step back (or rather, several steps back) to the turn of the 20th century, a time of big shifts and changes all across the U.S. These nine historic photos offer a snapshot of life in Kentucky in the early 1900s, and showcase that undeniable Bluegrass spirit and pride.
Small towns have long been the heart and soul of the Bluegrass State.
Pictured here is a horse-drawn carriage on the streets pf Columbus, Kentucky, circa 1900.
A proud and patriotic people, Kentucky has always been a big player in the U.S. military. The USS Kentucky was an iconic vessel in the early 1900s.
A 11,520-ton Kearsarge class battleship, the USS Kentucky was constructed at Newport News, Virginia, and commissioned in May 1900. Her first active service was on the Asiatic Station between October 1900 and May 1904. Kentucky also operated along the U.S. east coast and in the Caribbean area from 1905 to 1907.
Kentucky has long been known for its tobacco crops, harvested right from the Bluegrass soil in the western region of the state.
Here, farmhands work tirelessly hand-harvesting tobacco from a field in Kentucky.
In fact, tobacco was a huge part of the Kentucky economy at the turn of the 20th century; it was the number one crop during most of the 1900s, until being replaced by horses in 1999.
Pictured here is a Tobacco Warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1906.
Of course, it wasn't
all tobacco in 1900s Kentucky; coal mining also played a huge role in the development of the Bluegrass State.
And, of course, tourism has always been big in Kentucky, starting with Mammoth Cave in the 1800s. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad transported tourists to Mammoth Caves until 1886, when Colonel Larkin J. Procter, owner of the Mammoth Cave Estate, established the Mammoth Cave Railroad.
It closed in 1926, with the establishment of the Mammoth Cave National Park.
Another must-visit destination in 1900s Kentucky was the Capital Hotel in Frankfort.
The Capital City Museum is now located in the former Capital Hotel, and it was here that soon-to-be-governor William Goebel was carried after he was shot by an assassin across the street. Learn more about this unique hotel-turned-museum
While 1900s America was a time of immense racial segregation, Kentucky's Berea College has long been a place of inclusion.
The first interracial and coeducational college in the South, Berea College has faced fierce opposition over the years, first from armed, pro-slavery militias to segregation imposed by the state legislature. Despite physical, financial, and legal risk, Berea College continued in its mission to educate students of all races. The motto “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” has guided this historic institution since opening its doors in 1859. Read more about the town of
in this article.
From 1900 to 2021, so many things have changed, but the pride and spirt of the
people of Kentucky has remained deep, steadfast, and comfortingly constant.
We hope you enjoyed these intriguing photos of 1900s Kentucky. For more historic photographs of the Bluegrass State, check out these
candid photos from the 1920s!