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Jenkins, Kentucky

A town in southeastern Kentucky: 37°11N, 82°38W. Altitude: 465 m. Population in 2000: 2401.

[image ALT: A low brick building with several pitched roofs, by a parking lot. It is a view of the Public Library of Jenkins, Kentucky (central eastern United States).]

Next to the old railroad depot, the Jenkins Public Library.

Jenkins is a pleasant small town in Letcher County, Kentucky, 24 km SE of Whitesburg by road. Jenkins is at the very edge of the state, just a mile from the Virginia state line, and that's probably why she didn't succeed in displacing the slightly older but much less populous Whitesburg — 1600 inhabitants against Jenkins' 2401 according to the 2000 census — as county seat.

The main historical interest of the town is that Jenkins was founded to be a large town suddenly and from scratch, as the linchpin of one of Appalachia's most productive coal regions.


[image ALT: A long straight 2‑lane street, edged with small trees, fading into the distance, with a single car travelling down it away from us. It is an early 20th‑century view of Jenkins, Kentucky.]

[ 4/11/07: text complete ]

The History of Jenkins, Kentucky, a book of well over a hundred pages compiled in 1973 by the local Jaycees, is really a sourcebook rather than a history, but it's a fascinating window into American pioneer life — in the twentieth century! — and I will be putting it all online here. Most of it is up already.

Along with that document, a proper photogazetteer website is also in preparation, since I've spent about a month photographing Jenkins and the surrounding area: mining history and churches and even some Civil War history. It's taking me longer than I thought to get the complete site up to snuff; but it's on its way. You may already find it useful though to read these diary entries, which include a couple dozen photos as well:

Nov. 18, 2005

First impressions of Jenkins: Elkhorn Lake, the Coal Museum, the Library.

Nov. 19, 2005

Pound Gap; over the Virginia state line to the hamlet of Almira.

Nov. 20, 2005

Vignettes of life and recreation on Elkhorn Lake.

Nov. 22, 2005

The Cavalier Cafe, the American Legion.

Nov. 24, 2005

My low-key Thanksgiving dinner at Jenkins Community Hospital; #4 Hill, East Jenkins, #3, Burdine.

Nov. 25, 2005

The wider area around Jenkins, but still in Letcher County: Fish Pond Lake, Whitesburg, Seco.

Nov. 26, 2005

Store Hill, Dunham, Straight Row; Seco.

Nov. 29, 2005

The Library, then the wider area again; still mostly in Letcher County: the tipple at Deane, Fleming-Neon, Jackhorn (Hemphill), McRoberts; Pound, VA.

Jun. 7, 2006

A walk from Jenkins to Dorton; the cancer fundraiser bike ride sponsored by King's Dairy Bar.

Jun. 10, 2006

A walk from Whitesburg to Jenkins: Ermine, Mayking, Sergent, Thornton, Millstone, Kona, Seco, Haymond.

Jun. 12, 2006

Sunday service at First Baptist Church; drive in the nearer parts of SW Virginia, including Coeburn, Jefferson National Forest and Haysi.

Jun. 14, 2006

The AppalShop in Whitesburg; a drive to Ovenfork, and in Harlan County to Cumberland and Benham.

Jun. 15, 2006

The winery at Seco; Whitesburg.

Jun. 16, 2006

Roaming around town talking with people; Bible study at the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall; Mass at St. George's Catholic Church.

Jun. 16, 2006

Sunday service at Jenkins United Methodist Church.

Jun. 22, 2006

The wider area: Marshall's Branch Worship Center, and a bit of Pike County — Virgie and Pikeville.

Jun. 25, 2006

Wright Cemetery in Pound, VA: the burial place of "Devil" John Wright.

Minor entries:

Jun. 6, 2006 Jun. 11, 2006

[image ALT: A more or less aerial view of a small town, seen thru a thick tangle of winter-bare trees. It is Jenkins, Kentucky, the subject of this orientation page; a detailed description of the photo is supplied in the caption.]

In this telephoto shot looking northeast from Pound Gap, about three miles away and several hundred feet above the town, taken thru unavoidable trees — a view which would have been impossible in the spring or summer! — the large red building slightly left of center is Jenkins Community Hospital; the two white churches behind it are St. George's Catholic Church on the left and Jenkins Christian Church on the right, at the base of #4 Hill with houses on top of it. Between the hospital and the churches runs Main Street, obscured, with the Coal Museum and the Library you saw at the top of this page. On the low hill to the right, the red building is the Golden Years Rest Home; the body of water in the foreground is Elkhorn Lake: the straight line that marks the end of it is the dam that created the reservoir, built in 1912 to provide water to the planned community; the bright aqua tank right behind it is part of the town's water treatment plant. Walking down the asphalt-paved street from the tank to the hospital, we pass two brick buildings: the first and smaller one is Town Hall; the other, after the parking area, is the Masonic Hall.


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Page updated: 3 Jan 11