Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, in 1809. His birthplace is now a National Historical Park.
McCreary County, located in southeastern Kentucky, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Cherokee and Shawnee, who relied on the abundance of natural resources for sustenance and trade.

European settlers began to arrive in the late 18th century, establishing homesteads and farms in the area. The county was named after James B. McCreary, a former Kentucky governor and U.S. Senator. In the 19th century, McCreary County experienced a significant boom due to the timber industry, with logging operations providing employment and economic growth to the region.

During the American Civil War, McCreary County was a Confederate stronghold, and the region saw several skirmishes and raids. The area's rugged terrain made it ideal for guerilla warfare, and both Union and Confederate forces wrestled for control over the strategic Cumberland Gap.

In the early 20th century, McCreary County underwent a transformation when the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company established operations in the area. The town of Stearns became the centerpiece of the county, with a bustling coal mining and logging industry. However, by the mid-20th century, both industries declined, leading to economic hardships for the county.

Today, McCreary County still retains its natural beauty and is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. The county is also home to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. While McCreary County has faced economic challenges throughout its history, its resilient community continues to forge a path forward, embracing its heritage while seeking new opportunities.

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

  • 1823: McCreary County is formed, named after James B. McCreary, former Governor of Kentucky.
  • Early 1800s: Settlers begin moving into the area, primarily from Tennessee and Virginia.
  • 1836: Whitley County is established, taking land from McCreary County.
  • 1850s: Logging becomes a major industry in the county.
  • 1862: During the Civil War, McCreary County becomes a battleground as Union and Confederate forces clash.
  • 1870: The completion of the Cincinnati Southern Railway helps boost the local economy.
  • 1895: Stearns Coal and Lumber Company is founded, leading to increased industrialization in the county.
  • 1902: The town of Pine Knot is incorporated.
  • 1912: McCreary County High School is established.
  • 1920s: The coal industry reaches its peak in the county, with several coal mines operating.
  • 1937: Daniel Boone National Forest is established, protecting large portions of McCreary County's natural resources.
  • 1960s: Construction of the Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River creates Lake Cumberland, which provides recreational opportunities for residents and tourists.
  • 1995: Yahoo! begins construction of a data center in McCreary County, bringing jobs and economic growth.