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.

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.

Cawood Elementary School — Harlan County, Kentucky



DSCN0423This school is located in the south eastern end of Harlan County off of US 421 in the community of Cawood.  The school has been opened in this building since the early 90s.  Before that a large brick building that served grades K-6 was on this same property.  It was leveled and a parking lot is where sat now.  The school currently serves approximately 300 students in grades K-8

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)   [www.ipiccy.com]  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.


The Last Day of Winter 2014 at Martins Fork Lake

I stopped on the way home and took a few pictures at the lake today trying to get a picture for Year in the Life of Jamie project and I ended up getting a few that I wanted to share on the blog.  Hope you all enjoy.