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In 1937, the town of Maysville, Kentucky, became the site of the first public works project built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program.
Lee County, Kentucky has a rich and storied history dating back thousands of years to the indigenous peoples of the area. The Cherokee and Shawnee tribes were among the first inhabitants of the region, utilizing the bountiful natural resources for hunting, fishing, and farming. European settlers began to arrive in the late 18th century, with the county being officially established in 1870.

During the Civil War, Lee County played a significant role as a border region between the Union-controlled areas of Kentucky and the Confederate states. The county was the site of several skirmishes and raids, including the infamous Morgan's Raid in July 1863. Lee County was predominantly pro-Union, but faced challenges and disruptions from the conflicts that ravaged the surrounding areas.

The 20th century brought both progress and challenges to Lee County. The construction of the Kentucky River Lock and Dam in the 1920s brought jobs and economic development to the area, while also providing a reliable water supply for the county. However, the Great Depression hit Lee County hard, causing widespread poverty and unemployment.

In recent decades, efforts have been made to revitalize the county and improve the quality of life for its residents. The creation of Natural Bridge State Park and the Red River Gorge Geological Area in the 1960s has drawn tourists from around the world, bringing economic opportunities to the area. Additionally, initiatives focusing on education, healthcare, and economic development have sought to address some of the longstanding challenges faced by Lee County.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Lee County, Kentucky.

  • 1792: Kentucky becomes a state, and Lee County is established as part of the state's territory.
  • 1823: The county is officially formed and named after Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, the father of General Robert E. Lee.
  • 1849: The town of Beattyville, the county seat, is founded.
  • Late 1800s: Logging and mining industries become prominent in Lee County, leading to an influx of settlers and economic growth.
  • 1930s: The Great Depression severely impacts Lee County, causing widespread poverty and unemployment.
  • 1960s: The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) initiates programs to stimulate economic development and improve infrastructure in Lee County.
  • 1990s: The Pine Ridge Shootings, a tragedy resulting from a domestic dispute, attract national attention and raise awareness about poverty and social issues in Lee County.
  • 2010s: Efforts to diversify the local economy, including tourism and outdoor recreational activities, are undertaken to reduce reliance on extractive industries.