The rich history of Pineville

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Pineville is one of the oldest settlements in Kentucky, located at the crossing of the Cumberland River by the Wilderness Road. It was established as Cumberland Ford in 1781 and formed part of Gov. Isaac Shelby’s land tracts. When Bell County was formed in 1867, Cumberland Ford was formally laid off.

Local landowner J.J. Gibson’s 1869 land grant permitted it to be selected as the county seat, but the courthouse was not completed until 1871. The settlement was renamed “Pineville” in 1870 and formally incorporated in 1873.

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Its riverside location has made it subject to flooding, including a devastating incident on April 4, 1977, in which a floodwall built in 1952 was overwhelmed and 200 houses were destroyed or damaged. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the floodwall in 1988.

The economy is dependent on the coal mining industry, local family-owned businesses and tourism. Many enjoy visiting Pine Mountain State Resort Park, where the popular attraction “Chained Rock” is located. Pine Mountain State Resort Park features several hiking trails offering some of the most beautiful scenery in Appalachia. An 18-hole professional golf course, Wasioto Winds, is also located at the park. The golf course has been featured in Golf Digest.

Thanks to works done by the community organization Main Street Pineville, the town is working on revitalizing downtown Pineville to its historical roots. A major renovation to the downtown is scheduled to take place in 2020. In the meantime, folks enjoy entertainment at the Bell Theater, as well as shopping, dining and nightlife on the historic Courthouse Square.

Every Memorial Day weekend (from Wednesday to Sunday) the town of Pineville welcomes all to the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival, named for the Mountain Laurel flower which grows wild on Pine Mountain. The first Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival was presented in 1931. It remains the oldest continuously running festival in the state.

For more information and upcoming events, please visit our website at or the Main Street Pineville Facebook page.