Explore Calloway County, Kentucky

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Located in southwestern Kentucky, Calloway County was established in 1822. Calloway County was one of eight counties formed from the Jackson Purchase, which is the area west of the Tennessee River that was bought from the Chickasaw Indian Nation in 1818. The county was named for early Kentucky settler Richard Callaway (spelled differently), who was killed in a Native American attack at Fort Boonesborough in 1780.

The history of Calloway County that is explored here, and is on the county's highway markers, includes people and places that have influenced the county's past. Here you can learn about a significant literary figure and an intriguing inventor. Calloway County's dedication to education is also examined. There are stories about the county's early educational efforts at Calloway Normal School and Water's Schoolhouse, as well as a look at what became Murray State University and that institution's integration in the 1950s. Here are also some places that may be well known by the county's citizens, like the courthouse, and some places that may sound familiar but whose stories are more obscure like, Civil War Fort Heiman, Gerard Furnace, and Murray's First Baptist Church.

We hope you will use this app to learn more about Calloway County's noteworthy and interesting history.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #825 in Murray honors early Kentucky explorer and settler Richard Callaway. Calloway County (spelled differently), which was established in 1822, is named for this pioneer adventurer. The exact year of Richard Callaway's…

Historical Marker #1373 in Calloway County commemorates Gerard Furnace, an important producer of pig iron in the far western part of Kentucky during the mid-nineteenth century. The production of pig iron was well suited for Kentucky's rolling…

Historical Marker #1263 in Murray commemorates the history of the first courthouse constructed in Calloway County. The Calloway County courthouse originally functioned as a one room log structure and was built in 1823, one year after the county…

Historical Marker #147 in Calloway County commemorates Fort Heiman, a Confederate fort erected in 1861. Fort Heiman is the least well known of three Confederate forts that were built to guard the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Constructed in the…

Historical Marker #200 near Dexter, Kentucky, notes the history of Wadesboro, which served as Calloway County's seat of government from 1822 to 1842. The first permanent settlement in the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky was established about…

Historical Marker #2198 in Murray commemorates the one-room schoolhouse that teacher Joseph Spillman Waters established in Calloway County. In 1838, the Kentucky General Assembly created the state's first system of free public education. …

Historical Marker #1945 at Kirksey in Calloway County commemorates the history of Calloway Normal College, a teachers' school that operated from 1899 to 1913. The term "normal" was popularly used in the nineteenth and early twentieth…

Historical Marker #87 on the Murray State University campus remembers the life of inventor Nathan Beverly Stubblefield, who developed an early form of radio. The nineteenth century was a revolutionary time of invention, especially in the field of…

Historical Marker #1977 on the Murray State University campus commemorates the life of Calloway County native and literary critic Cleanth Brooks. In the twentieth century, Brooks and other writers challenged conventionality in the fields of poetry…

Historical Marker #1770 in Murray commemorates Harvey Boyce Taylor and his work on the Cooperative Program. Murray's First Baptist Church, under the leadership of Taylor, proposed a new unified approach to the church budget. The proposed…

Historical Marker #1427 on the campus of Murray State University commemorates the school's history from normal school to regional teacher's college to state university. In part, Murray State owes its existence to the influence of Rainey…

Historical Maker #2191 at Murray State University notes the 1955 desegregation of that educational institution. Much of the evidence that prompted the United States Supreme Court in the landmark "Brown v. the Board of Education" decision…