Explore Letcher County, Kentucky

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Letcher County, named for Robert Perkins Letcher, a state legislator, governor from 1840-1844, and U.S. minister to Mexico, is known for its scenic beauty, rich mountain culture, and heritage. Much of the area’s local history is on display on highway markers throughout the county.

From early settlement at the beginning of the nineteenth century to industrialized coal mining in the twenty-first century, Letcher County has witnessed an enormous amount of change. The people and places of the county have made both state and national history. Some of that history is inspiring, such as the novels of John Fox, Jr., who called upon the area’s mountains for his stories. Other history is tragic, such as Scotia Mine disaster in 1976. Regardless of how its history is interpreted, the people, places, and events in Letcher County’s past continue to be relevant in the present and a guide for the future.

We hope you will use this app to explore Letcher County’s rich history and unique stories.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #809 in Letcher County notes the namesake of the county, Governor Robert Perkins Letcher. Letcher was born in Goochland County, Virginia, in 1788. His family moved to Garrard County, Kentucky, about twelve years later. As a young…

Historical Marker #1700 in Letcher County notes where one of the region’s first pioneers, Archelous Craft, initially settled. Although the southeastern part of Kentucky saw the earliest exploration in the years before and immediately after…

Historical Marker #777 in Letcher County notes how that region influenced the accomplished novelist John Fox, Jr. Born during the Civil War in Bourbon County, Kentucky, Fox was educated in local schools, at Transylvania University, and at Harvard,…

Historical Marker #1294 in Letcher County notes the location of Kingdom Come, the valley immortalized in novelist John Fox, Jr.’s "The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come." By the time John Fox, Jr., made the valley of Kingdom Come famous…

Historical Marker #1804 in Jenkins notes the history of this Letcher County coal town. In the last decade of the 19th century coal production by industrial companies began in earnest. A rapidly industrializing United States needed a fuel source to…

Historical Marker #1906 near Jenkins, Kentucky, notes the heroism of Lt. Darwin K. Kyle, who won the Medal of Honor in the Korean War. Darwin Keith Kyle was born in the coal mining town of Jenkins, Kentucky, on June 1, 1918. Kyle entered the U.S.…

Historical Marker #1732 in Whitesburg notes the Cold War U-2 spy incident involving Letcher County native Francis Gary Powers. Powers was born in Jenkins, Kentucky, on August 17, 1929. He graduated from Milligan College in Tennessee in 1950. …

Historical Marker #1197 in Letcher County notes the history of early Kentucky settler and Revolutionary War soldier James Caudill. Caudill (early spelling Cordill) was born in 1753 in Lunenburg County, Virginia. As a young man during the…

Historical Marker #510 in Letcher County notes the history of Pound Gap, a natural pass in the Appalachian/Pine Mountain range. Early explorers moving west looked for natural passes through the rugged Appalachian Mountains. Many of these passes…

Historical Marker #2314 in Letcher County notes the tragic mine explosions that occurred at Scotia Mine in 1976. The accidents are noted as being one of the worst mine disasters in U.S. history. When industrial coal mining came to the mountains of…

Historical Marker #1188 in Letcher County notes the location of the Scuttle Hole Gap Road, a thoroughfare used by the mountain community since the early nineteenth century. During Kentucky’s early history, travel through the Appalachian Mountains…