This week in local history

Published 10:10 am Monday, April 9, 2018

The following events occurred during the week of April 8-14:

1750: Dr. Thomas Walker and his party passed through the Cumberland Gap and camped on the flat land at the foot of the Gap along a creek bank. When Dr. Walker returned to the Virginia settlements, he publicized the Gap as the gateway to the rich lands of Kentucky.

1890: The tomb of Col. Arthur Campbell, famed Revolutionary War hero and early Virginia politician, was unearthed during the excavation necessary to construct 24th Street.

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1891: Hall & Vaughn Tannery began operations. There was still some construction work to do. When completed it was said to be the largest tannery in the country.

1898: A large crowd was at the railroad depot to see the evening train. Due to the smallpox quarantine, it was the first passenger train to stop in Middlesboro in more than a month.

1918: Pascal Constanzo purchased the barber shop of B. H. Perkins next to Sprague’s Drug Store on Cumberland Ave.

1922: Letter to the editor signed “Stranger” stated, “Your campaign for the sale of Middlesboro to tourists will not get you very far unless there is a radical change in the methods of your people…tin cans, etc. are scattered not only on the streets but about the premises (of residences)…Even your principal business street is often littered with waste paper, shop sweepings, etc.…The creek (is)…a receptacle for rubbish.”

1928: Bob Smith was arrested for moonshining. A longtime resident of the area between Fern Lake and Bartlett Park, he had had an uninterrupted career for many years. The paper noted that he was, “the old-fashioned type who knew his business, and produced a good grade of liquor.

1942: Bell County had 4500 registered passenger cars; however, the quota of tires allocated by the Tire Rationing Board for the whole county for Aril was set at 10 new tires, 8 retreads and 9 inner tubes.

1954: The newspapers reported “blazing mob violence in Middlesboro phone strike.” A crowd gathered in front of the phone exchange and began throwing rotten vegetables against the front door. The next day shots were fired into the phone company coffee room and the crowd grew to an estimated 500, many of whom were throwing rocks at the building. Finally, the telephone exchange was completely closed down. By the next day, strikers agreed that emergency fire, police and health calls could be handled, but there was to be no other phone service.