This week in local history

Published 10:10 am Monday, April 8, 2019

By the Bell County Historical Society

The following events occurred during the week of April 7-13 in Bell County:

1890: Editorial urged supporting local business. “Let every man in Middlesboro resolve that he will go abroad for nothing that he can obtain at home and that none of his dollars shall find lodgment in foreign coffers if he can get as good value for them in his own town.”

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1891: The Beltline Railroad gave a complimentary excursion for the public to celebrate the completion of the road and its opening for passenger service. Five coaches were boarded by 300 passengers for the excursion around Middlesborough.

1894: A boat regalia was held on Lake Thirimere (now called Fern Lake). It also included single scull races.

1922: Letter to the editor from “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…in most sections…tin cans, etc. are scattered not only on the streets but about the premises…Even your principal business streets is often littered…The creek is…a receptacle for rubbish.”

1932: City schools announced they would be closing a month early due to a shortage of funds. Financial problems dating from the banks closing were exacerbated by the fact that many people could not pay their taxes.

1943: S. A. Mars was re-elected president of the Upper Cumberland Area Boy Scout Council.

1952: The Middlesboro Housing Authority selected eight acres west of Junction School, which was the old Boston Iron Works property, for the location of 74 units of low cost housing.

1954: The Middlesboro Speedway for stock car racing opened. Admission was $1.25 with children under 12 admitted free.

1957: City Clerk Katherine Dance outlined Middlesboro’s financial progress in the past three years. She said that tight management of money and centralized purchasing had permitted the city to repay almost $100,000 of debt.

1959: Sixty-five block captains met to plan for the most extensive clean-up and beautification project in the history of Middlesboro in preparation for the dedication of the national park.

1965: Thirty Middlesboro citizens were making a house-to-house canvas to promote a bond issue to build a new high school.

1990: The Bell County Historical Society sponsored a huge three-day celebration to commemorate Dr. Thomas Walker’s entry into Kentucky. Although Dr. Walker was not the first white man through the Cumberland Gap, he was the first to publicize it as the gateway to the rich lands of Kentucky. The celebration included reenactments, contests for school children, a symposium featuring a number of well-known historians, the publication of David Burns’ book “Gateway,” the construction of an overlook for viewing the Narrows, dedication of a historical marker and many other events.

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.