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HCHN Announces Coal and Rail Centennial Celebration



On Friday, August 5th 1911, a steam locomotive pulled L amp; N coal cars #64,326, 64,506 and 65,506 out of the Wallins Creek Coal Company Mine in Terrys Fork. This event marked the first rail shipment of coal out of the hills of Harlan County, Kentucky. Now, 100 years later, the Harlan County Historical Network (HCHN) has organized a program to commemorate this important date. On Thursday, August 25, 2011, a special program will be held at the Harlan County Court House commemorating the milestone date.

HCHNs Coal and Rail Centennial celebration will begin at 3 p.m. with a dinner and bluegrass music on the Court House lawn for miners and railroaders. At 4:00 p.m. a legislative reception hosted by the Harlan County Fiscal Court will be held at the Harlan Depot in conjunction with Railroad History Evening. The focus of events will return to the courthouse at 5:00 p.m. with special speakers, performances, and presentations. Local historian and educator Dr. James Greene will deliver the keynote address from the front steps of the Court House highlighting 1911 and historical significance of the railroad in the development of Harlan County and the growth of the coal industry. He will be joined by state dignitaries and others at this Coal and Rail Centennial inaugural event. High school bands, choirs, and the Harlan County Honor Guard will also participate.

HCHN President Larry LaFollette stated, Friday August 25, 1911 is truly a watershed day in the history of Harlan County. Volumes have been written detailing the significance of the coal industry in Harlan County, and rightly so. It is no less important for us to be mindful without the railroad much of the coal in Harlan County would remain landlocked to this very day. The development of the Harlan County coal fields is tied directly to the expansion of the railroad. And the coal industry is not the only beneficiary of the railroad. Every major community in Harlan County is located along a rail line that at one time carried commercial goods, as well as, coal. Together these two industries have played a decisive role in the economic, political, social, and cultural development of Harlan County. Therein is so much of Harlan Countys history and the stories of its people lived out.

A coal miners-themed art exhibit will also be on display on all levels of the Harlan County Courthouse. The faces and families of Harlan Countys hundreds of coal miners will be celebrated in the exhibit, which is being organized in partnership with the HCHN and the Bank of Harlan. Transportation between the depot and the courthouse is being arranged for those who wish to attend the Rail Road History Evening at The Depot.

For more information about the Harlan County Coal and Rail Centennial celebration, contact LaFollette at (606) 589-3131. The Harlan County Historical Network holds the historical record of Harlan County to be its greatest cultural resource: promotes the collection, preservation and use of the countys historical record, and encourages the open sharing of Harlan Countys historical and cultural heritage.