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.


Underwater Bridge Pier @ Martin’s Fork Lake


I have a weird fascination with this lake and the way the community was that sat here before its construction.  Today I traced the road leading up to where the old elementary school is to the end of the water as far as I could as it sinks into the lake.  Much to my surprise I was able to clearly make out what appears to be a bridge pier underneath the water.


You can clearly make out the natural lay of the land while the water is this low.  You can also see where the road originally crossed the river.  I wish that I could find some good photos of this area before the lake was built.  My parents have told me countless times things like “and this is where Creed Smith’s store was”  or, “this is where Creed Smith lived”  or “….and Mrs Ball lived right over there”.  I have a mental image in my head of the area, but I would still love to see it.


So many times we take things that are all around us for granted.  No better example of me doing this, is Martins Fork Lake.  On a nice clear day, the water is as blue as can be and the sand is white as snow.


The Harlan County Kentucky Courthouse

We all know the story of how the Harlan County courthouse was burned by confederates during the civil war.  But did you know that this is actually the fifth courthouse of Harlan County and the second to sit on this site.?  The present Harlan County courthouse was constructed in 1918-22. The courthouse is built using Indiana limestone and is a two-story, stone structure with a Beaux-Arts influence.



The initial site for the first three courthouses in Harlan located on a mound in the city, which due to this mound was initially called Mount Pleasant. Turns out that this was an Indian burial mound, as further digging an excavation during the building of subsequent buildings onsite revealed bones and other artifacts. When the courthouse was moved to the present site pictured above, the old courthouse remained, and was later used as a meeting hall and Masonic lodge.


The doughboy statue at the Harlan County Courthouse


Sitting on the courthouse lawn is a monument to those who were killed in coal mines.  Im honestly unsure of how many names are listed on this monument but the names date back to the 1920s.  Coal mining remains an important part of Harlan and its history. Repeated attempts to organize labor and the related conflict between mine owners and their security led to a great deal of violence in the region, and the nickname “Bloody Harlan” being attached to the area. The National Guard was even called in May 5, 1931, in response to violence surrounding a strike.

Martins Fork Lake Meets Ice Fog

The fog always does weird things on this lake.  Today while it is mostly frozen over with ice it was exceptionally amazing as I was driving home from work.  Enjoy thee pictures of Martins Fork Lake in Harlan County from today.IMG_0006 IMG_0008 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0005 IMG_0003

Snow Day Photo Remix

It’s been brutally cold here today so i honestly havent even been out of the house.  To be quite honest I havent been much more than out of my bed haha.   That doesnt mean I havent been bored.  So I got to looking on an SD card from last fall and found some pictures and Ive been playing around with them with different effects on ipiccy ( which btw is the best , most user friendly free photo editing site I’ve found)   []  Enjoy.


My personal favorite is this picture of downtown Harlan, Kentucky that I took back in the summer from Ivy Hill.


The old MC. Napier High School located in Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky.  This school was opened in the early 1950s and closed when it consolidated with Dilce Combs High School to form Perry County Central High School in 1995.  The building had been used as an Alternative school until 2005, when the alternative school closed the property was auctioned off in 2007.


a loadout at Bledsoe Coal Corp in Leslie County, Kentucky.

IMG_1236]The Moonlite Drive in located along US Hwy 11 just south of Abingdon, Virginia as it appeared in June of 2014.  Upon doing a quick google search I came across the Facebook page for this drive in and apparently the owners are hoping to open back up next summer.  This drive in originally opened in 1949 and is on the National Register of HIstoric Places.

Mary Helen Coal Company Commissary

This week I was able to take a sneak peak inside of a long abandoned building in the coal fields of Harlan County Kentucy.  This building once served as the company store for the Mary Helen Coal Company.  Later it served as the Coalgood supply company store and the Coalgood, Kentucky post office.   The post office was closed August 31, 2004.  The store building and most of the land around this area is now owned by Coalgood Energy Company.



The outside of the building shows the sheer size of this building and the relative closeness of the business to the mining operations.  The sign for the post office is still on one of the doors downstairs.


My hope for such a building would be that at some point someone would purchase it with concrete plans that could be of some type of service to the community, whether it be low income apartments, maybe some type of small business, possibly even a call center.  There is a lot of room in this building and it is still structurally sound.  As it sits now it is nothing but an eye sore to many, but to me its a glimpse into the past and a different way of life in my home town.