The word "Kentucky" is derived from the Native American word "ken-tah-ten," which means "land of tomorrow."
Letcher County, Kentucky, located in the eastern part of the state, has a rich and storied history that dates back to its establishment in 1842. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee people, who were forcibly removed from the land as part of the Indian removal policy in the 1830s.

The county takes its name from Robert P. Letcher, a former Governor of Kentucky and prominent political figure. Letcher County grew rapidly in the mid-19th century due to its abundant natural resources, particularly coal. The discovery of coal in the region led to a boom in the coal mining industry, attracting thousands of miners from various parts of the country.

The coal mining industry played a vital role in shaping the county's economy and culture. However, it also brought about numerous challenges, such as hazardous working conditions and labor disputes. Letcher County witnessed several labor-related conflicts and strikes during the early 20th century, as the coal miners fought for better wages, safer conditions, and workers' rights.

In recent years, Letcher County has faced the decline of the coal industry and the need to diversify its economy. Efforts have been made to promote tourism, outdoor recreation, and arts initiatives to attract visitors and create new opportunities for the local population. The county remains proud of its Appalachian heritage, with traditional music, crafts, and culture continuing to be celebrated and preserved. Today, Letcher County stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of its people, as they work towards a prosperous future while honoring their past.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Letcher County, Kentucky.

  • 1777 - Letcher County is established as part of Virginia.
  • 1860 - The population of Letcher County is around 5,000.
  • 1884 - The Louisville and Nashville Railroad reaches Letcher County, boosting its economic development.
  • 1912 - Neon, Kentucky, is founded as a coal mining town.
  • 1916 - Letcher County splits from Perry County to become an independent county.
  • 1920s-1930s - Letcher County experiences a coal mining boom.
  • 1954 - The Kingdom Come State Park is established in Letcher County.
  • 1970s - The coal mining industry declines, leading to economic challenges for the county.
  • 1990s - Efforts towards diversifying the economy, with a focus on tourism, begin in Letcher County.
  • 2009 - The Letcher County Recreation Center opens, providing recreational facilities for the community.