Living and Working on the Kentucky River




This project documents the economic and social conditions of people who have lived or worked on the Kentucky River.

Workers talk about several industries and occupations associated with the river: coal mining, locks and lock repair, logging, rafting logs downriver, sawmills, farming, fishing, oil drilling, and bootlegging. Many of the interviewees worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Several types of boats are discussed: showboats, steamboats, pleasure boats, ferry boats, barges, and various other kinds of commercial boats.

Narrators recall floods along the river, especially those in 1933, 1937, 1962, and 1978, and the ice tide during the winter of 1917--1918. Other topics are the droughts of 1930 and 1936; boat wrecks, drownings, and other river accidents; environmental concerns such as pollution of the river, dredging, and the ecology of the river basin; the history, including the geological history, of the Kentucky River and the Kentucky River Basin; the impact of the Great Depression and World War II on the area; social life and recreation; the river as depicted in fiction and poetry; and Paul Sawyier and his paintings.

Communities along the river that are discussed include Valley View, High Bridge, Shakertown, Boonesborough, and Oregon. Thomas D. Clark, Wendell E. Berry, and Thomas Fitzgerald are among those interviewed.


Living and Working on the Kentucky River

Project Interviews

Curator, Kentucky River Museum

Witt reminiscences of growing up at the Mowbray & Robinson sawmill in West Irvine, Kentucky in the 1920's and 1930's.

Welsh tells of long life on the Kentucky River in Estill County.

Smith speaks of civil engineer work for the Park Service Commission on High Bridge.

Fint speaks of work as a fisherman and boat operator.

Retired military man speaks of childhood adventures on the Kentucky River.

The Lynch brothers discuss their time and work on the Kentucky River.

Retiree from the Corps of Engineers discusses work on the Kentucky River.

Four ladies speak of day to day life on the Kentucky River.

Reporter, Lexington Herald Leader

Director of Kentucky Resources Council

Combs reminiscences about rafting on Troublesome Creek and the Northfolk of the Kentucky River.

Allen speaks of experiences over the years along the Kentucky River.

Lock worker talks about recent work and repairs done on certain locks on the Kentucky River.

Young discusses personal and family experiences on the Kentucky River.

Kearns discusses life in the community of Doylesville in Madison County, near the Kentucky River.

Clements and Webster tell of family and personal history along the Kentucky River.

Seale speaks of living for 90 years in Booneville, Kentucky.

Geologist with the Federal government shares information on work with Kentucky minerals.

Commissioner, Kentucky Department Natural Resources and Director, Natural Areas, Eastern Kentucky University

Chairman of the Kentucky River Authority

Tuttle tells of growing up on the Kentucky River and his father's work as a toll keeper.

Tindall talks about the Kentucky River and the people he encountered.

Taulbee reminiscences about the flood of Frozen Creek in Breathitt County in July of 1939.

Postmistress tells of life and work at Perry Park on the Kentucky River for nearly forty five years.

Wife of commercial fisherman tells of life near Gratz, Kentucky.

Stevens tells of early years of his life spent in Estill County at the Mawbray & Robinson Sawmill where his father worked.

Roberts speaks of growing up in the area around the Kentucky River at Drennon between Locks #1 and #2.

Lair speaks of first eleven years of life on the Kentucky River at Valley View.

Imel tells of life near the Kentucky River near the community of Perry Park.

Gibson speaks of spending thirty years on the Kentucky River as a commercial fisherman.

Garrett reminiscences about growing up in Jackson, Kentucky on the North Fork of the Kentucky River in the 1920's and 1930's.

Fullen reminiscences about growing up at Tyrone on the Kentucky River up through the 1920's.

Flynn speaks of family history at Boonesborough and along the Kentucky River.

Retired Teacher and EKU alumnus speaks of growing up along Lock #1 and Lock #6.

Retired teacher tells of life in Henry County, Kentucky.

Life long resident of Owen County tells of life growing up on the Kentucky River.

Byrd speaks of working for several years on the Kentucky River.

Hall discusses the Kentucky River and memories of connections with the River.

Retired teacher recalls life on the Kentucky River.

Barber discusses the Kentucky River.

Yount discusses memories of the Kentucky River.

Embry speaks of growing up at the Mowbray and Robison sawmill in Estill County, Kentucky.

Retired carpenter and painter recalls memories of growing up on the Kentucky River.

Carter discusses family's experiences on the Kentucky River.
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