The first successful gold rush in the United States occurred in 1806 in Kentucky. The gold was found in the sand and gravel of the Ohio River and its tributaries.
Rowan County, Kentucky, is located in the eastern part of the state. It was established in 1856 from parts of Fleming and Morgan Counties. The county was named after John Rowan, an influential lawyer and statesman from Kentucky. Prior to the establishment of the county, the area was primarily inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Cherokee.

The first European settlers arrived in the late 18th century, with many of them being of Scottish and Irish descent. The county quickly grew as more pioneers settled in the region, taking advantage of the fertile land for farming and the abundant natural resources. In the early 19th century, Rowan County became an important center for agriculture, with tobacco being the primary cash crop.

The county played a significant role in the Civil War, with many residents supporting the Confederacy and joining Confederate military units. However, there were also Union sympathizers in the area, which led to a divided community. The conflict caused devastation and hardship, with widespread destruction of property and loss of life. After the war, Rowan County slowly rebuilt, focusing on agriculture and the timber industry.

In the 20th century, Rowan County experienced both economic growth and challenges. The discovery of oil and gas resources brought prosperity to the area, attracting companies to extract these resources. However, like many rural regions, the county also faced economic decline due to the changing landscape of the agricultural industry. Efforts have been made to diversify the economy and promote tourism in recent years, with outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing drawing visitors to Rowan County.

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

  • 1793: Rowan County was formed from part of Fleming County.
  • 1859: The county seat was established in Morehead.
  • 1861-1865: Rowan County was deeply affected by the American Civil War.
  • 1889: The first train arrived in Morehead, expanding transportation options.
  • 1930s: The creation of Cave Run Lake increased recreational opportunities in the area.
  • 1954: Morehead State University was established, bringing higher education to the county.
  • 2015: Rowan County gained national attention for a legal battle over same-sex marriage licenses.