KENTUCKY - A GUIDE TO THE BLUEGRASS STATE - 1939
(Portsmouth, Ohio)- South Portsmouth - Ashland - Catlettsburg -
Paintsville - Prestonsburg - Pikeville - (Norton, Va.) ; US 23, the Mayo
Ohio Line to Virginia Line, 194.6 m.
Hard-surfaced roadbed in most places; remainder graveled.
Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. parallels route throughout.
Accommodations chiefly in towns.
This route follows the low bluffs along the curving Ohio River; the
Big Sandy Valley, and the Levisa Fork, a tributary of the Big Sandy
River. In the southern section it passes between a cordon of small
hills that increase in height toward the south until, at the Kentucky-
Tennessee border, they are stopped by the great purple and green wall
of the Cumberland Mountains. Veined by the river and its tributary
creeks and locked on three sides by hills and mountains, the Big Sandy
country was the last part of Kentucky to be surrendered to the white
man by Indians. Game abounded here and salt licks were plentiful;
until 1795 this common hunting ground was regularly visited by Creeks,
Choctaws, and Cherokees from the South, and by Shawnees, Miamis,
Delawares, Wyandottes, and Illinois from the North.
The rest of Kentucky had already been cleared before this section
was settled, and in the 1820's population in the Big Sandy Valley averaged
only about six inhabitants to the square mile. But hardy, independent
men continued to come into the valley by way of the four gaps
through the Cumberlands and along the Indian trails, or down the Ohio
and up the Big Sandy Rivers to the dark hills beyond. These men
established farms in open hollows; the loggers arrived later, to "bring
daylight in the swamp" and send millions of logs floating down the Big
Sandy; little towns arose in some of the more accessible pockets of the
region ; and to the long-sounding toot of the packets that plied the river
was added, in the 1870's, the clear sharp whistle of locomotives announcing
the coming industrialism. The hills were tapped for their mineral
resources and coal mining became a major industry in the valley;
in some of the larger towns small factories developed. Today the Big
Sandy Valley has hard-surfaced roads, modern hotels, schools, and
churches. As seen from US 23, it has a settled appearance. Just across
the hills from the river, however, the isolation still continues. Side
roads leading off from the highway are few; in the remote hollows, or
on the steep slopes of countless hills, are lonely little cabins where the
spinning wheel is kept busy and the wagon carries the family to
"buryin's," "meetin's" or "foot-washin's." This is Jesse Stuart's country (see Literature) and the locale of Jean Thomas' stories about
the hill people of the Big Sandy region.
US 23 crosses the Ohio Line m. at Portsmouth, Ohio (see Ohio
Tour 21), by way of a bridge (autos 25$, pedestrians 5$) over the
SOUTH PORTSMOUTH, 0.4 m. (660 alt., 500 pop.) (see Tour 11),
is at the junction with State 10 (see Tour 11).
Between FULLERTON, 2.4 m. (1,239 pop.), and Greenup the highway
closely parallels a long right-angle bend- of the near-by Ohio and
crosses fertile bottoms behind the dark, squat bluffs that border the
river. Fruit growing is the chief activity in this level region.
GREENUP, 18.7 m. (478 alt., 1,125 pop.), seat of Greenup County,
was named for Christopher Greenup, Governor of Kentucky (1804-
1808). The town was known as Greenupsburg until 1872 when the
name was changed to avoid confusion with Greensburg in Green County.
The old brick GREENUP COUNTY COURTHOUSE was erected in 1811 to
replace an earlier one built of logs with puncheon floor and benches.
Greenup is no longer an important river port, and only a few farmers
use the old ferry between this point and Haverhill. But the town still
attracts the hill folk so colorfully pictured in the autobiography and
short stories of Jesse Stuart. Greenup was almost obliterated by the
disastrous flood of 1937 when the entire population was suddenly marooned,
and desperate efforts had to be made to prevent destruction.
During his later years Daniel Boone (see Tour 17A) is said to have
made his home on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River near Greenup.
About 1799 he removed from Kentucky to West Virginia by going up
the Ohio in a canoe made of the trunk of a tree.
Right from Greenup on State 2, an improved road, to RACCOON IRON FURNACE
(R), 6.5 m., not operated since 1872. The final charge of ore has never been
East of Greenup as US 23 passes through some of the best eastern
Kentucky bottom lands, there are occasionally fine views of the sweeping
RACELAND, 26.2 m. (1,088 pop.), has a track that is the center for
horse racing in eastern Kentucky.
RUSSELL, 28.1 m. (549 alt., 2,084 pop.), named for John Russell of
Ashland, one of the region's former ironmasters, lies directly opposite
Ironton, Ohio, with which it is connected by a highway bridge (autos
20$, pedestrians 5$). The town has grown up around the large railroad
yards, containing 147 miles of track, owned and operated by the
Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Company. A modern car shop with a capacity
for rebuilding 45 cars daily is also here.
In the vicinity of Russell are a few ivy-mantled ruins of old blast
furnaces that are the sole reminders of the iron industry that flourished
here and on the opposite side of the Ohio from about 1812 until the
closing decades of the nineteenth century. These silent and ghostly
structures sprang up as enterprising capitalists began exploiting the rich
iron, coal, clay, stone, and timber resources of the region. The pioneer
furnaces were called "salts" because the iron they produced was cast
in 40-inch pots used for evaporating salt. The Ohio River offered convenient
transportation; shortly pots and pans, fireplace implements,
waffle irons, trivets, and the like were being made here and sold up and
down the Ohio and Mississippi. With the coming of the industrial
period and the building of railroads, dozens of furnaces in the iron fields
bordering both sides of the river roared with activity. Plumes of pale
blue smoke curled skyward and then films of wood ash settled on the
hillsides as the tapped furnaces surrendered the molten metal that was
to become cannon and rails and plowshares and machines. A special
class of men arose, the ironmasters, mostly Scots and Englishmen, who
gave flavor and excitement to the entire region as they compelled their
men and their furnaces to produce more and better iron and large personal
fortunes for themselves. They were the lords of the country
living in regal mansions in the larger towns and visiting Maysville or
Cincinnati for week-end jollities, yet they mingled freely with their
workers and cared for them paternally in hard times.
The opening of a new furnace meant a holiday celebration attended
by the ironmaster, his family, and all his workers. Old songs were
sung, and after the sun was up (there was a superstition about this)
a lady, often the betrothed of the ironmaster's son, lighted the first fire
in the furnace. At noon a prodigious feast was served, consisting of
quarters of barbecued beef, sweet potatoes, large loaves of bread, and
burgoo large pieces of prime steer, vegetables, and imported spices
boiled in a large kettle. The blast was applied and the ironmaster, certain
that he had another successful furnace, mingled with the crowd and
received their congratulations. Young couples stood upon the runners
and pressed their initials in the pig iron mold; if the initials of a young
man and woman were broken off in the same piece of iron from the first
cast, they would be married and the bonds of matrimony would be as
strong as bands of iron. When night came, square dances were performed
in the spacious commissary until a horn blast ended the festivities
as the next shift came on duty at the furnace.
The furnaces had their greatest activity about the time of the War
between the States. The discovery of superior metal in the Upper
Great Lakes region and the depletion of the local ores caused iron
making to decline in this area; the rise of the Youngstown-Pittsburgh
region brought it to an end. The furnaces still standing have been cold
and silent for decades, and the steel mills at Ashland look elsewhere
for their iron.
Through Ashland and southeast of it, the highway continues for 10
miles through the concentrated industrial area of eastern Kentucky.
ASHLAND, 33.4 m. (552 alt., 29,074 pop.) (see Ashland).
Points of Interest: American Rolling Mills, Ashland Coke Company Plant, Central
Between Ashland and CATLETTSBURG, 39.3 m. (552 alt., 5,025
pop.) (see Tour 16), US 23 and US 60 (see Tour 16) are united.
Between Catlettsburg and Louisa US 23 abruptly leaves the Ohio and
Big Sandy Rivers (the latter flows into the Ohio just east of the town),
and makes a short cut back through the hill country with its frame
houses in the good bottoms, log cabins up narrow hollows, small patches
of tobacco, one-room schoolhouses, and an indefinable sense of isolation.
At 51.6 m. is the junction with an unmarked graveled road.
Right on this road to the TRAIPSIN' WOMAN'S CABIN (open by request), 1.6 m.,
owned by Jean Thomas, founder of the American Folk Song Festival (adm. free).
On the second Sunday of June each year a large audience gathers here to hear
the ballads and see the folk dances presented by the mountain people. The songs
and dances are performed with strict attention to appropriate costuming, steps,
and music. Women in linsey-woolsey, slat bonnets, and homespun shawls dance
to the tunes of "Chimney Sweeper" and "Prince Charley." Mrs. Thomas, whose
home is in Ashland, Ky., was born of mountain folk and early became interested
in the folk customs of her people. Traveling through the mountains, sometimes in
a jolt wagon, sometimes on foot, she made a study of the legends, ballads, and
dances of the Kentucky mountaineer. Her works include Devil's Ditties, a collection
of songs, and the Traipsin' Woman, an account of her experience in the Cumberland
Mrs. Thomas' log cabin is a reproduction of the type occupied by the more prosperous
settlers of 100 years ago. It is on an eminence among wooded hills. Jilson
Setters, the left-handed fiddler from Lost Hope Hollow, who journeyed to London
to sing for the English Folk Song Society, sings ballads of his own creation about
his travels. He helped Mrs. Thomas found the folk pageant. It was the mountain
people who first called Mrs. Thomas the "traipsin' woman," for they described
her journeyings from county to county as "considerable spells of traipsin'."
LOUISA, 75.7 m. (526 alt., 1,961 pop.), seat of Lawrence County,
was named for Louisa, Duchess of Cumberland. It is a pleasant old
town, dating from the flatboat era, and is in a region of considerable
natural beauty at the head of navigation on the Big Sandy River. During
the Napoleonic wars thousands of bearskins were collected along the
Big Sandy and Kanawha Rivers and sent from Louisa down river to
the Ohio, then down river to New Orleans, and thence to Europe, where
they were made into headpieces for Napoleon's grenadiers. Big Sandy
has been used for transportation for more than a century. Packets and
barges superseded the crude early flatboats; down Tug and Levisa
Forks came millions of logs from the forests of the upper valley, bound
for Louisa and the sawmills along the Ohio River; the Chesapeake &
Ohio Ry. built a terminus here decades ago. Today an occasional
steamboat continues to carry traffic between this point and Catlettsburg.
At the northern end of Louisa along US 23 is the BIG SANDY
DAM (L), the first movable needle-type dam built in the United
States. This dam was erected in 1896 at a cost of $396,305.
The old FREESE HOUSE (private), at the end of Sycamore St. overlooking
the Big Sandy, is the only old Georgian Colonial home in
Louisa. This two-story brick structure, with walls 13 inches thick, was
built about 1840. A front porch and a rear ell have been added, and
the house has been painted red with white trim. The original yellow
poplar woodwork, all of it hand-whipsawed, is still in place. This was
first the home of Capt. Milton Freese, who operated packets on the Big
Sandy and Ohio Rivers for 50 years.
According to a tradition, believed by many, George Washington,
before the Revolution, had a tract of 2,084 acres surveyed on both sides
of the Big Sandy River, including the present town site of Louisa. The
story is supported by the fact that a cornerstone on this survey bears
the initials "G.W."
Another tradition concerning the selection of the Kentucky-Virginia
boundary relates that three commissioners, selected by the Governors
of the two States, arrived late one evening in October 1799 at the point
where Louisa now stands. Rains had been falling and the waters of
both forks of the Big Sandy were rising. After the commissioners had
enjoyed the refreshments and conviviality of pioneers, it was decided
that the boundary should follow the larger fork of the Big Sandy. The
next morning the Tug Fork, which had been rising steadily during the
night, appeared to be much larger than the Levisa Fork and forthwith
became the boundary. The commissioners departed before the slowly
rising waters of the Levisa, normally the larger of the two, reached the
junction of the forks. Satisfaction with the result was widespread;
many years later it was realized that, had the Levisa Fork been selected,
the rich bottom lands and extensive mineral resources of the Big Sandy
Valley would have remained a part of Virginia.
There is a story that in 1760 John Swift left Alexandria, Va., with
a party and came through the mountains to some place in Kentucky
where they knew of a silver mine. They worked the mine that summer
and returned to Virginia in the fall
; a program they repeated each year
until 1769. A manuscript of their travels and operations gives the dates
of the various trips and the names of Swift's companions. It asserts
that they also had some interests in piratical enterprises along the
Atlantic Coast, and gives an account of money coined and treasures of
thousands of dollars hidden when either Indians or the weather made
it difficult to get the money out. Although the journal seems to point
to the region around Paint Creek in Johnson County as the place where
Swift's party camped and worked and the Mine Fork of Paint Creek
was so named for their mine, nearly every county in eastern Kentucky
has a tradition linking it with this romantic story; searching for the
lost treasure has long been a favorite pastime in Kentucky, Virginia,
North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Left from Louisa on State 37, a paved road, to the center of the FORT GAY
BRIDGE (toll 15$ for auto and driver, 15^
each additional passenger), 0.5 m.,
over the point where the Levisa and Tug Rivers converge to form the Big Sandy.
This bridge connects two States (West Virginia and Kentucky), two counties,
two towns, crosses two rivers, charges two tolls, and has three approaches. There
is an excellent view here of the Big Sandy River.
Right on State 3, from the center of the bridge, a short distance to the socalled
"Point" section, between the forks of the Big Sandy. The first settlement
in Lawrence County, consisting of three cabins connected by palisades, was
founded here in 1789 by Charles Vancouver of London, England, who had received
a grant of land from King George III in 1772; the patents were issued by
Governor Randolph of Virginia in 1768. William M. Fulkerson, an attorney of
Louisa, has in his possession this old parchment document with the official seal
of the Lord Mayor of London.
South of Louisa the highway (now graveled) follows Levisa Fork
through mountain farm lands typical of the Big Sandy Valley. There
are a few small villages, but most of the region appears to be uninhabited
as the hills near the highway conceal more distant hills in the
hollows and bottoms of which are trie cabins and farms of the mountaineer.
Hard put though he is to scrape a living from his steep and
sometimes unfertile patches, the mountaineer has a deep attachment
for his farm and his home; he would not think of forsaking them (as
long as they are his) to go out to "the level land" beyond the mountains.
Proud and sensitive, he is quick to resent the flouts of outsiders,
and contemptuous of any of his own kind who "git above their raisin'."
He is unfailingly kind and hospitable because he holds individuality in
high esteem; his cabin often has a place set at the table for a chance
visitor, he is "mighty proud" to meet someone he likes, and his traditional
invitation is, "Drag up a cheer and sit a spell."
In these hollows bearing such names as Lonesome, Troublesome, and
Peevish, the traditions, songs, customs, and handicrafts of the original
settlers still survive among their descendants who continue to live in
the same way and often in the same places as their great-grandsires.
The pattern of life is simple but tenacious. The typical mountaineer
owns a cow, a couple of mules, hogs, chickens, geese, turkeys, and
ducks. His house is usually a log cabin. He raises corn and tobacco
for a "money crop," an acre of cane for sorghum, and potatoes, turnips,
and sometimes pumpkins and apples for winter use. Wild berries,
game, and fish in the mountain streams also provide him with food.
The material with which he clothes his family is still woven on hand
looms and he needs money chiefly for taxes; many of his possessions he
acquires by barter. Paths and old creek beds join hollow to hollow and
serve in lieu of roads. The ham a traveler eats at one of the town
hotels in this region quite likely comes from a Chicago packing house
because the mountaineer cannot bring in his hogs from his farm four
Music is second only to religion in the hearts of the mountain people;
and while the women have preserved the handicrafts of their ancestors,
it is the mountain men chiefly who have cherished their songs.
The fiddle, the dulcimer, the banjo, and the guitar are met with at
infares (weddings), dances, frolics, and impromptu gatherings; and to
this day there is found in the mountains of Kentucky the wandering
minstrel who trudges along quiet creeks and into lonely hollows to
bring cheer with his "sure-enough fiddle" (as contrasted with the children's gourd fiddle) and his songs. Religious extremists call these lively
jigs or sweet romantic ballads "devil ditties." But it delights most of
the mountain people, from the "leastuns" (youngest children) to the
grandsires, to gather about the minstrel who can sing and play these
old, sometimes Elizabethan, songs that their ancestors knew in the
shires of England or the highlands of Scotland; a "right ditty singer"
means as much in their lives as a "mighty knowin' " doctor or a good
preacher. Some of the more famous mountain minstrels are said to be
able to carry on for days without repeating themselves. Old favorites
include "Lord Lovell," "The Dying Knight's Farewell," "Lady Isabel
and the Elf Knight," "Barbara Allen," "Thread the Needle," "Rickett's
Hornpipe," "Give the Fiddler a Dram," "Lord Dannel," "Pa's Done Et
the Shotgun," and "My Gal is Billy-be-Damned."
The mountaineer's life is hard but self-contained, and the sense of
independence is his most prized trait. His psychology is still that of
the frontier; he is suspicious of outsiders, takes strong measures against
real or fancied wrongs, yet withal is extremely sociable. He describes
his neighbors as sometimes "contrarious," sometimes "witchy" (claiming
power to bewitch people) ; others are "flighty" and some are
"drinlin" (frail). He respects "larnin'," even though he may not be
able to read or write himself, so long as it does not make the possessor
flout the ways of his people. Rooted to the soil and ancestral traditions,
the mountaineer's concern with elemental things gives him a
strength of character and a basic permanence that is not found elsewhere
in the United States; to find his like, one must look to the English
At 106.5 m. is the junction with State 40 (see Tour 17); between
this point and Paintsville, US 23 and State 40 are united.
PAINTSVILLE, 108.3 m. (620 alt., 2,411 pop.), seat of Johnson
County, was named for PAINT CREEK which flows through the
town, and along which early settlers found many of the large trees
stripped of their bark and embellished with drawings of birds and
animals, painted in red and black on the smooth undertrunk of the
trees. There were found also odd figures of buffalo and deer painted
in red and black on the clifflike sandstones of the creek gorge. Various
undecipherable hieroglyphs were once visible near the drawings, but
these have become obliterated by the weather during the last 40 or 50
The town is on the SITE OF PAINT LICK STATION, an old trading
post. Indian traditions cling to this part of the valley, which was apparently
a favorite burial ground of the Indians. On the hills surrounding
Paintsville many graves and burial mounds have been found; and
artifacts, such as pipes, tomahawks, pottery, and beads, have been
taken from them. The ROCK HOUSE, a natural rock formation with a
circular opening cut to provide entrance, stands on a hill facing the
river just north of Concord Baptist Church. Such shelters, bearing
evidence of Indian occupation, replaced wigwams in times of danger.
Paintsville is at the junction with State 40 (see Tour 17).
EAST POINT, 114.5 m. (627 alt., 265 pop.), lies directly across the
Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River from Blockhouse Bottom, the
SITE OF HARMON'S STATION. This, the first fort, in the Big Sandy
Valley, was founded in 1787 by Matthias Harmon and a party of settlers
from Draper's Meadow. Attacked by Indians in 1788, the station
was abandoned and burned, but a year later rebuilt.
In the fall of 1787, while practically all the men from Harmon's
Station were on a hunting trip in the Big Sandy Valley, a band of
Cherokee and Shawnee attacked the home of Jennie Wiley at the settlement
of Walker's Creek. With Mrs. Wiley were her 15-year-old brother
and her four children. Realizing from the actions of the two leaders
that they had mistaken her home for that of Matthias Harmon, who
had defeated the Indians a few days before, Mrs. Wiley tried to fight
them off only to see three of the children and her brother tomahawked
and scalped. After setting fire to the cabin, the Indians, with Mrs.
Wiley and her 15-month-old baby as captives, left the settlement.
During the 11 months in which she was held, Jennie Wiley saw them
kill her baby by dashing its brains out against a tree.
During the winter the Indians camped near the head of Cherokee
Creek. While they were on one of their hunting trips, Mrs. Wiley,
bound with rawhide thongs, crawled to the corner of the cabin; she
allowed the rain to drip through the roof and to fall on the leather
until it stretched. Then she freed herself and escaped down Little Mud
Lick Creek and up another small stream, which the settlers later named
Jennie's Creek in honor of this brave pioneer woman. At East Point
she crossed the river on a log and reached Harmon's Station just before
the Indians who were pursuing her appeared on the opposite side.
The Bottoms between East Point and Prestonsburg were used as
camping grounds during the War between the States by Union forces
under Gen. James A. Garfield.
PRESTONSBURG, 121.2 m. (643 alt., 2,105 pop.), between the
river and the hills, was first known as Preston Station, named for Col.
John Preston, a surveyor from Augusta County, Virginia, who camped
here in 1791. The erection of John Spurlock's house on this site in
1791 distinguishes Prestonsburg as the oldest settlement in the Big
Sandy Valley. The building stood here for many years as a landmark.
On Second Ave., north of Court St., is the house used as COLONEL
GARFIELD'S HEADQUARTERS (open by request) during his Big Sandy
campaign. The building, facing the river, is a rambling two-story
frame structure with brick end chimneys and a two-story veranda across
the front. Soldiers camped 300 yards north of the house.
During the War between the States the Big Sandy Valley was the
scene of an important military campaign. The Battle of Middle Creek,
fought on January 10, 1862, within three miles of Prestonsburg, determined
the control of eastern Kentucky and drove a Union salient into
the broken Confederate line that cut across southern Kentucky. Col.
James A. Garfield, who commanded a brigade of Ohio and Kentucky
troops under General Buell, planned and executed the campaign. In a
month he succeeded in driving the Confederate forces under Gen.
Humphrey Marshall from the Big Sandy Valley, causing them to retreat
into southeastern Virginia, thereby preventing them from descending
the Ohio River to Cincinnati. The Battle of Middle Creek was the
first substantial victory for the Union cause. It was the success of
Garfield's campaign in the Big Sandy that gave him the general's star
and started him on the road leading to the Presidency.
A story is told that illustrates some of the difficulties of the campaign.
The Big Sandy was in flood, the roads deep in mud, and the
brigade in need of supplies. Garfield, with one other soldier, descended
in a skiff from Pikeville to Catlettsburg where they found the steamer
Sandy Valley. He loaded the boat with supplies and commanded the
captain and crew to pilot him back to Pikeville. The captain refused,
so Garfield took the wheel himself, and after a perilous trip reached
Between Prestonsburg and Pikeville the highway winds along the
east side of Levisa Fork, much of the distance in plain sight of the
At 130.5 m. is the junction with State 80 (see Tour 18).
US 23 passes through several little towns whose men work irregularly
in the numerous hillside coal mines of the area (see Tour 19). Since
the highway has opened this region to products from the South, the
farmers, living a mile or two back from the road, are no longer able to
sell the garden products with which they formerly paid their taxes;
their situation is desperate. In this region dwell many relatives and
descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families, whose feuds were
notorious for several generations (see Tour 19).
Back from the highway are isolated little graveyards usually perched
on hilltops under a cluster of oak trees. Many of them have "grave
houses" rude log and clapboard shelters that the mountaineers customarily
erect over and around the graves of their relatives.
PIKEVILLE, 152.2 m. (680 alt., 3,376 pop.), with its long narrow
streets, is surrounded by thickly timbered countryside that ranges from
the hilly to the mountainous; neighboring roads reveal scenes of wild,
almost breathtaking, beauty. Although the Levisa, which flows through
the town, no longer carries its once heavy burden of logs and other
freight, Pikeville is still a lumbering and coal mining center. It is also
the administration office of the Pikeville terminus of the Chesapeake
& Ohio Ry. It was named for Zebulon M. Pike, the explorer, and was
developed chiefly by the younger sons of the Rees family of Virginia
who took up thousands of acres here.
The HOTEL JAMES HATCHER, Main St., completed in 1931, has an
odd assortment of relics on display in its lobby ox-yokes, hoop skirts,
cannon balls, ox-shoes, chain dogs, cant hooks, bootjacks, spinning
wheels, looms, and flintlock rifles. On the walls are popular bits of
rural humor: "To live a long life, reside in Pikeville the only city
on the map where an undertaker ever failed in business"; "There is a
noticeable increase in population in these mountain counties. Why?
True mountaineers obey the commandments and never allow a twin
bed in their homes"; "Visiting Pikeville is like making love to an old
maid. You'll have to do it all over again"; and "We serve free beer if
you are over 95 years old and accompanied by your parent."
Pikeville is at the junction with US 119 (see Tour 19); between
Pikeville and JENKINS, 191.5 m. (1,527 alt., 8,465 pop.) (see Tour
19), US 23 and US 119 are united (see Tour 19).
South of Jenkins the route leads over continuous elevations to the
crest of Pine Mountain, thence through historic POUND GAP, 194.6 m.
(2,366 alt.), a mountain pass that connects the South with the Big
Sandy Valley. It is called a wind gap because water no longer flows
through it. Pound Gap, like many mountain passes, has been a highroad
of adventure and romance. The Kentucky, the Cumberland, and
the Big Sandy head near it; Indian trails passed through it; pioneers
eventually utilized it. At first called Sounding Gap because the rocky
formation seemed to give back a hollow sound, the name was corrupted
to Pound Gap.
A marker on the Kentucky side of the gap lists important dates in
the early history of the State and of this pass.
Pound Gap is on the Virginia Line, 20.5 miles west of Norton, Va.
(see Virginia Tour 15).
This information was Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project
of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Kentucky - 1939