This week in local history

Published 6:10 am Monday, October 1, 2018

The following events occurred during the week of Sept. 30-Oct. 6 in Bell County:

1890: The L & N Railroad was doing a larger volume of business in Middlesborough than anywhere on the line except Louisville, Birmingham and Nashville. There were 200-250 cars in the railroad yard with many others sidetracked along the line waiting their turn. They were mostly bringing in building supplies.

1895: Middlesboro Mayor David Colson resigned his city office in order to take his seat in the U. S. Congress.

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1899: Middlesboro was having a huge fair. The midway featured a Hindoo Theatre, Mexican troubadours, Japanese jugglers, and an Oriental Theatre starring La Belle Rose, a “coochee-cochee dancer” and Babe Riel, who was “Queen of the Midway” at the recent World’s Fair, as well as trained animal shows. Although the newspaper stated that there was “nothing degrading about the performances,” it warned that “the supersensitive may avoid the Oriental Theatre.”

1904: Payday at the mines resulted in five people being shot, three of them fatally. One was at Yellow Creek Mines, one at Nicolson’s mines and the other three in the vicinity of the freight depot in Middlesboro.

1918: A motor truck was purchased for the Fire Department to replace George and Barney, the Fire Department horses.

1925: The Ranch Wild West Show and the Great Far East Circus arrived on a 101 car train. The show grounds were on the Colson Aviation Field. The newspaper reported the parade from the train station to the grounds was “positively the largest in the world.”

1935: The State Highway Department allocated $50,000 to construct 25 E through the East End and to extend it to the saddle of the Gap.

1948: Eligible bituminous coal miners started receiving pension checks from the UMWA. Among the first to receive his $100 check was John M. Brooks of Bell County. 1948: The newspaper commented on the statement by city officials that no help was needed in enforcing the law: “What we thought were slot machines in many of the restaurants and business houses on beautiful Cumberland Avenue and in most of the places along Nineteenth Street must merely have been some sort of lemon and cherry vending machines.”

1965: Middlesboro adopted a city flag. The design was selected by W. I. Jones, president of the Middlesboro Area Development Association. The flag featured a field of blue with three stars representing the three states of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, and the coat of arms of the city of Middlesbrough, England, on a field of white with a large letter “M” for Middlesboro.

To learn more about local history, visit the Bell County Museum, located just north of the Middlesboro Post Office, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.