Lynch, Kentucky [Part I: The old Elementary School]

For the past 5 or 6 years I have wanted to get in this building so bad I couldnt stand it.  The situation never presented itself to me where I thought I could safely and quickly without notice get in, get out and get some quality shots.   That is until today.   This morning I was out driving around,  just wanting to enjoy the blue skies and semi-warm-ish weather.  Some how I ended up in Lynch and in the old Elementary School.  I hope you enjoy these photos and I hope my facts are correct that I present with them.

This photo is quite common on the internet, the research I found states that the photo was taken in the 1940s
This photo is quite common on the internet, the research I found states that the photo was taken in the 1940s

   First, let me give you a bit of background information on Lynch, Kentucky.    In 1917 the U.S. Coal & Coke Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, built the community of Lynch, Kentucky, then the world’s largest coal camp.  The coal camp was built on part of the 19,000 acres the company had purchased in the southeastern tip of Harlan County, near the Virginia border.  The camp’s population peaked at over 10,000 people.  One thousand company owned structures provided housing for people of 38 nationalities, the most prominent of which were Italian, Spanish, Czech, Polish, English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish. By the 1940s this mining complex employed more than 4000 persons above and below ground.

     The public buildings were constructed of cut sandstone, and included a  company store, theaters, churches, a hospital and schools.  Many company buildings were built of stone as well, such as the offices, bath house, power plant and lamphouse.  In the 1920s U.S. Coal & Coke owned the world’s largest coal tipple with a capacity of 15,000 tons.  On February 12, 1923 the world’s record for coal production in a single 9 hour shift was achieved when miners operating 40 shortwall cutting machines produced 12,820 tons of coal, filling 256 railcars.

The public schools pictured in these photos were  first part of the  The Lynch Mines School System.  Apparently, since the company owned the town, the company also ran the schools at this time.  This was disolved sometime around the 1960s and schools were integrated into the Harlan County Schools.   At this time in history, schools were segregated.   Another school located on the west end of town still stands as well, and right on the building it says “Lynch Colored Public School”  When the schools were integrated in the 1960s the school was renamed Lynch West Main High School.  I will have more on the high schools in  a later post, back to the Elementary School, and on to the real good stuff.  The pictures!

Lynch3

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Lynch1

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18 thoughts on “Lynch, Kentucky [Part I: The old Elementary School]”

  1. Oh what History this old School holds! So sad to see it looking like this! I have to pass by this School going to and from my House in Gap Branch!

  2. My father is from Lynch, KY and they lived and my uncle still lives right above the coal mine that opened up for tours. Forgive me for not knowing the name of the mine. I love visiting my father’s hometown. So much history for such a small town. Thank you for posting this. I look forward to the second part of this article.

    1. I went to school there also in the 70’s we were Independent not County. Was a wonderful school and when the Bulldogs were playing a football game on Friday nights it seemed like the whole town came out to cheer them on. Those were a lot of my favorite memories hate seeing the school look like this now wish someone would come and restore both schools. Thanks for posting.

      Tammy Day

  3. Thank you for being brave enough to go inside. I went to school in this building from 1950-1957. I have memories also from there. My best was our Mother driving up at lunch time and us going out and sitting in the car eating homemade soup. There was no cafeteria or lunch room there.

  4. Very haunting pics! Thanks for sharing them. I”m from Cumberland, my dad lived in Lynch. I’ve passed that school many times.

  5. Thanks for the pictures but sad the building is in such bad shape. It would be great if the place could be restored for a useful purpose.

  6. I have always loved that stone work building. I have often thought it would be so awesome to see someone fix it back up and put something in there. I think it would make a nice museum maybe about mining. My dad worked at Lynch in the mines in the past and so did my grandfather. I love Harlan County and have lived here all my life and I am saddened to see it going down so fast due to losing mining jobs.

    1. I live here too Janice, it is sad….but there is always hope. I think things will turn around sooner or later. But I honestly dont see coal mining coming back. The world has evolved, I guess its time for Harlan County to do the same.

  7. My Momma went there. I have heard some wonderful stories of her growing up there and her Dad worked in the mines. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for taking interest in Lynch. My Grandmother Kathryn Buton and her sister Margaret Buton were the first teachers in the Lynch Grade School. Their Mother Kate O’Toole was Assistant Post Mistress in 1924.

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