Martin’s Fork Time Machine

First and foremost before I begin this entry I want to give credit and thanks to the Martins Fork Lake Facebook page for sharing these photos. Ever since I was small I have always wondered what the land looked like before the lake was built at Smith. So, with great gratitude I thank the folks who control the lake’s social media page for having the thoughtfulness and courtesy to share these wonderful archives with us.

Martins Fork Lake Construction (Mid-Late 1970s) Im starting off the photos with what I consider to be the holy grail of the bunch. This photo is looking toward the bridge nearest the beach. Imagine that little road running up and down the middle is the road along the beach area. If you look closely you can see the roof of the old Smith School and the rock church near the center. Im shocked at how flat this area was. Martins Fork Lake Construction (Mid-Late 1970s)
This second picture is looking off toward the lake from the last bridge. In fact, to this day, if the water is down far enough you can still tell where this bridge was that is in the picture.
Martins Fork Lake Construction (Mid-Late 1970s) The rest of the photos are pretty self explanatory, but fascinating no doubt. Martins Fork Lake Construction (Mid-Late 1970s)

The last picture is an old welcome sign that was at the lake until the 1980s according to the lake’s Facbook page.
Martins Fork Lake Construction (Mid-Late 1970s)

I also have a couple of other entries that includes more historical pictures from Martins Fork Lake and the Smith community that I posted a few years ago, if you are interested in reading those articles you can do so by clicking  the links below:

Smith Kentucky; A Glimpse To The Past, Present and Futrue

Smith Presbyterian Church

Cranks Creek Lake — Harlan County, Kentucky

Drove around to the back side of the Cranks Creek Lake this evening and got a few really good shots of the lake and dam.

Cranks Creek Lake -- Harlan, Kentucky//
Cranks Creek Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//
Cranks Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//
Cranks Lake -- Harlan County, Kentucky//

Winter Storm Jonas

Snow isnt a rarity here in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. In fact there is a pretty good chance you will see some of the stuff from late October all the way to late April around here. It is however a rarity that we get big snows….This last storm, Jonas was the third in the past 11 months to dump more than a foot on the bluegrass state. Thats pretty astonishing, and pretty rad for snow lovers for sure. These are a few of the photos Ive taken around the house since the storm hit, seeing as how my cars are still stuck in the driveway and probably will be for a few more days….Im getting a touch of cabin fever. Enjoy.
Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas

Four Mile School — Harlan County, Kentucky


The Fourmile (Four Mile?)  School was located near the intersection of US 119 and Kentucky 840 Just to the west of the cities of Harlan and Loyall.  FourMile

I can’t find a definite opening date for this school, but some of the architectural cues tell me that it was probably constructed in the 1920s.  The tall windows and the fact that it was built out of brick and not stone tells me that it probably was constructed pre-wpa era.  I also found this picture on blogger that denotes it as being taken at fourmile school circa 1924.  That photo can be found by clicking HERE.  Also, the Harlan County School System has a nice little feature on their website focused to former schools in the county.  A photo of the Fourmile School was uploaded there and it is attached below….



I have no idea who owns this building but I would absolutely love to go inside of it and document its existence.  These photos really show the poor condition of the roof and these were taken before the massive snow storms we had last year in this area that collapsed roofs all over the county.


I also can’t find a definite closure date for this school, but my best inclination is to think that it probably closed around 1966 when nearby Loyall High School was turned into a strictly K-8 facility when James A. Cawood High School opened.


As always, if you have any information or stories about this school or building please feel free to comment or message me!  Thanks for reading.

Mary Alice, Kentucky 40964


The United States Post Office for Mary Alice, Kentucky was located on state route 72 about 6 miles from downtown Harlan.


The Post Office was originally constructed in the late 1980s and is nearly identical to just about any small rural post office constructed in this part of the country during that era.  A picture of the post office from 1993 can be found by clicking HERE


In November of 2011 the Mary Alice post office closed its doors and the building has sent been put up for sale by the US Government.

Mary Alice2

So….if your dream has ever been to live in a 600 square foot post office building….here’s your chance!


Ages School — Ages-Brookside, Kentucky

Ages Elementary School is a former school located in the Ages Community of Harlan County, Kentucky located off of Kentucky State Route 38 between the cities of Harlan and Evarts.


The building is built of beautiful cut stone construction typical of many of the early 20th century buildings in this part of the world.  I cant pinpoint a construction date, but by the architectural details and cues I would guess late 1920s to early 1930s would be a good estimate of the opening date for this school.

Ages1 The building is a basic elongated H shape with wings on both ends of the building.


The school was last used in the early part of the 2000’s by KCEOC as a headstart and preschool location.


The building suffered some flooring and roof problems and those classes were moved to nearby Verda Elementary after Verda closed in 2001.


Im not completely sure when this school was last used as an elementary school.  My guess would be early 80s to late 70s.



Downstairs the boiler room was left wide open and easily accessed.



The basic structural integrity of the building is still in tact as the exterior walls are still standing firm and the roof is fully intact.


The floors have now been removed from every single room that I could see in.


and there are a few holes in the interior walls exposing the old type construction this building utilized.



as you can see almost every window in this building has been busted out.  These windows coincidentally appear to be the same size and type that was used at Hall High School / Hall Elementary and that building was completed in 1929.



Another classroom sans the floor.



You have to love the nice graffiti that some idiot felt appropriate to tag the walls with.


Stay away.  Haha.


At least the front doors are secure and locked now.



A community park now sits adjacent to the school on part of the school property.



As always, if anyone has any more information on this school or its history please comment or send me a message.  I would love to hear any input!

Rainy Day At Cranks Creek Lake

Cranks Creek Lake is a 219 acre lake that was created in 1963 at the base of stone mountain.  The lake is owned and operated by Harlan County.





The old Mount Aire Motel — Harlan County, Kentucky

Image of Mount Aire Motel postcard
Image of Mount Aire Motel postcard

Anyone who has been on US 421 across Pine Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky has noticed the ruins of what was once a stylish 1950s or 60s era motel near the peak.   During the summer months the remains of the building are almost over taken by weeds and kudzu vines.


The back of this postcard reads:

Mount-Aire Motel, U.S. 421, 6 miles north of Harlan at Harlan Entrance to ‘Little Shepherd Trail’. Box 979, Telephone 606/573/3310. Heated pool, carpeting throughout, dining room, banquet room, 24 hour telephone service, completely air conditioned, color TV, shower and tub baths, twin rooms with balcony. Elevation 2800 feet. Buffet every Sunday serving regional foods. Harlan, Kentucky 40831.

Sounds like it was a pretty snazzy place back in the day and the premiere lodging choice in the area.


Flash forward to 2015.  Only a shell of the building remains.


The metal frame of the stairs to the second floor remains….but they lead to no where.

MountAire13The staircase to no where.


This appears to have been a common area, such as the main lobby.


This was a very large and spacious hotel.

MountAire5Another shot from what appears to have been the lobby / Common area.


The earth is close to retaking what was hers in this area of the hotel.


This was apparently balconies that overlooked the ledge of the mountain which this hotel is built on.  At 2800 feet I am sure it offered some amazing views.


Back inside you can see a lot of graffiti that has been left over the years.


I do believe those restrooms would be out of order.


For some reason I think this was possibly part of a kitchen area in the hotel.


Good advice I suppose.


Looking from the kitchen area to what appeared to have been a dining area.


back down the front corridor this was the hallway and outside access points to the rooms on the first floor.


Apparently the bathrooms had tile floors.


Another shot from inside the remains of one of the rooms.

MountAire17another shot of the front lobby / common area



I cant really ever remember this hotel being in operation at this location.  It was apparently damaged by fire and forced to relocate.  Mount Aire Motel is still in operation in Harlan, Kentucky as they have moved inside the city limits.

**UPDATE**  November 16, 2015:   I was in this area weekend before last and the site of this hotel has now been leveled and the remains are now all gone.  All thats left is a pile of freshly spread dirt.


Railroad Street — Harlan, Kentucky

I am going to start a series of entries that will cover the sights of downtown Harlan.  Many people take these buildings and places and landmarks for granted and I really want to take a minute to at least spotlight them in my blog, before progress comes along and wipes some of them out.

One building in particular that I fear is nearing the end of its life is the old Jellico Grocery Company Warehouse on the corner of Main Street and Railroad Street.  In the past few years there has been noticeable change in its appearance, the front of the building has had the loading dock torn off, bricks and masonry materials are laying on the ground and it just looks ran down in general.  I’ve always referred to this area of Harlan as the warehouse district, and below you will see why I do.

hackney1Remains of the loading dock and front of the building as seen from Railroad Street.  The Jellico Grocery Company opened sometime before World War II in Harlan County, One reference point I came across on the internet was 1925, another was 1935.  I am thinking probably 1925.


In 1975 Jellico Grocery Company was purchased by the H.T. Hackney Company.  The warehouse in Harlan continued to operate for some time after this, although I can’t find a definite date.  So I am inclined to believe it closed sometime before 1985.


I suppose at one time, this was the main entrance to the warehouse?


As you can tell in this picture the railroad literally goes right by the front of the building.


I took this shot by accident and hated not to include it because I really like something about it.


In this shot you can see the Jellico Warehouse, next on that side of the street is a fairly newly constructed building with some healthcare related agencies as tenants.  Next is the former McCombs Supply Company complex which was several buildings all warehouse style construction as well.  On the left side of the railroad you have the semi-newly constructed Depot which is a semi-newly constructed building that sits in the same general area as the original Depot did in Harlan.  This building houses the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Offices.  Barely visible behind that you have the Kentucky Mine Supply building, home to arguably the most recognized sign in down town Harlan.


several years back, when I first developed an appreciation for photography and documenting community history I ran across a fellow online who had posted this picture above, and the picture below.  This was taken in 1973 from the same general area of Railroad Street.


In this photo you can see that the original depot was very large and long compared to the new building.  It looks to me as though it stretched almost the entire length of Railroad Street until it intersects with River Street.

Benham Kentucky and The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum

Benham (population 599), a city in northern Harlan County was founded in 1911 as a coal mining company town by Wisconsin Steel, a subsidiary of International Harvester.  There are several buildings in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  For the purposes of this entry I will focus on one of these buildings, The former Commissary which was built in 1923.


The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, housed in the former commissary building (1923), which is in the center of this photo, has became a regional tourist attraction. Three stories of exhibits feature the history of coal mining in Kentucky and the life of coal miners and their families. The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum features exhibits on a miner’s home, a company hospital, commissary, and school; engineering, coal sampling, a mock mine tour and the Loretta Lynn “Coal Miner’s Daughter” exhibit.  The Museum opened in May of 1994.



The Benham Post Office is located near the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum.