Over the past several years I have became fascinated with retail history and even more specifically Kmart. I can remember growing up and going to the Kmart store at Village Center Mall in Harlan. Man that place was magical. I can also vaguely remember TG&Y….which was located in another shopping center down the way by the A&P. Both of those chains do not exist any more and are buried deep in the back of many people’s minds. Anyone remember SuperX? Which turned into Revco and then CVS? Yeah, SuperX is a name you havent heard in a while I am sure. Every year it seems Kmart has a massive round of closings and the store numbers dwindle even further. In 1994 Kmart started its first round of store closings the store count stood at a hair under 2,500…..After the store closings in July and August of this year that number will stand at a hair above the 800 mark. Whats even more stunning than that statistic? In December 2014 there were 1,050 Kmart stores. Thats right at 250 store closings in less than 2 years.
On April 21, 2016 the latest round of Kmart store closings was announced and included in this list was 4 of the 5 Kmart stores in the Metro Louisville area. Those stores are:
- Poplar Level Road (Louisville)
- Taylorsville Road (Louisville)
- Elizabethtown, Kentucky
- New Albany, Indiana
I decided to take a day trip out in the Metro Louisville area and document these stores before they disappear into a part of our past as they close for the final time this Sunday, July 31st.
First up: Poplar Level Road Kmart. This store first opened in 1972 with a Kmart Foods attached. By 1975 the Kmart Foods concept was dead. This store was then heavily remodeled and general merchandise expanded into the foods section.
Kmart: Taylorsville Road, Louisville This store opened for business on March 6, 1967. The store was heavily remodeled sometime in the mid 1990s.
Kmart: Elizabethtown, Kentucky Opened in 1992. This store replaced a much smaller store that was located in nearby Radcliff.
Kmart: New Albany, Indiana first opened October 29, 1981.
With these store closings Sunday Kmart will be left with one store located at Outer Loop. A city of almost 800,000 people and a metro area much larger, and Kmart has dwindled to one single location. At one time there were at least 9 Kmart stores in the metro area. That’s not counting ones I have not identified that might have been in Southern Indiana. I fear the end is near and for that reason I will continue documenting Kmart stores and their existence today.
The Betty Howard Coal Miner’s Memorial Theater is located in the town of Benham, Kentucky in northern Harlan County. Benham is a former company town built by Wisconsin Steel subsidiary International Harvester in the 1910s and 1920s.
The theater was built by the coal company in 1921. Over the years as with many coal company towns, the theater and other buildings fell into disrepair. Benham, however is a great success story of preservation and rejuvenation. On July 21, 1983 the theater along with most of the other buildings surviving in Benham were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
That includes the theater. The town sought for private funding to restore the theater. In December of 2006 the theater was re-dedicated.
If you dig long and deep enough every one of these train trestles you come across have a unique history and story. This bridge in particular however has a very unique story and history in the fact that it was relocated to this spot.
The bridge was originally constructed in 1894 by the Pencoyd Bridge & Construction Co. and crossed the Ohio river. At that time when it crossed the Ohio the bridge carried two tracks.
In 1960 the bridge was relocated to its present home in the Millard community of Pike County, Kentucky by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, which is now part of CSX.
This trestle crosses the Puncheon Branch,a tributary of the Kentucky river and Kentucky route 1498 near it’s intersection with state route 7 in the community of Kite, Kentucky.
The Trestle is 711 feet long.
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.