National Register Listings in
Martin County, Kentucky

The town of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, was the birthplace of Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
Martin County, located in eastern Kentucky, has a rich history dating back to the early Native American inhabitants. The area was initially occupied by the Cherokee and Shawnee tribes, who relied on the rich natural resources and fertile valleys for sustenance. In the late 18th century, European settlers began to arrive in the region, establishing a presence and influencing the cultural and economic landscape of Martin County.

During the early 19th century, Martin County saw a surge in coal mining activity, attracting a diverse population of immigrants seeking employment opportunities. The discovery of extensive coal deposits revolutionized the local economy and brought significant growth to the area. As coal mining became the dominant industry, railroads were constructed to transport the valuable resource, connecting Martin County to larger markets and contributing to its prosperity.

Despite periods of economic success, Martin County also faced challenges. The region bore witness to the devastating impacts of the Great Depression, causing widespread unemployment and poverty. In 1945, a catastrophic flood struck Martin County, resulting in significant infrastructure damage and loss of life. The flood led to the construction of the Martin County Dam, aiming to prevent future disasters and stabilize the local economy.

Modern Martin County continues to be a predominantly rural community, with a focus on agriculture, coal mining, and outdoor recreation. The county's picturesque landscapes, including the scenic Appalachian Mountains and the Tug Fork River, attract tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. Today, Martin County strives to balance the preservation of its natural beauty with sustainable economic development, ensuring a prosperous future for its residents.

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

  • 1822: Martin County was established as a county in Kentucky.
  • 1870: Eastern Kentucky State Normal School was established in Paintsville, which later became the site for Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
  • 1886: The town of Inez was incorporated.
  • 1924: The first oil well in Martin County was drilled, leading to an oil boom in the area.
  • 1937-1942: The construction of the Paintsville Lake began, providing flood protection and recreational opportunities for the area.
  • 1954: A massive flood devastated Martin County, causing significant damage and loss of life.
  • 1973: The Buckeye Coal Mine disaster occurred, resulting in the deaths of 10 miners.
  • 2000: The Martin County water crisis occurred, due to a mismanaged coal slurry impoundment, resulting in contaminated drinking water for thousands of residents.
  • 2018: The reopening of the Martin County Airport, providing improved transportation options for the community.