Historical Marker #2387 in Harlan County commemorates the Pine Mountain Settlement School.
William Creech, an early settler in the Pine Mountain valley, realized the need for a good school in the area. Creech had purchased seven hundred acres of :wild land" on one of the head waters of the Kentucky River in 1870. He cleared the land, built a cabin, and raised a family, but he was aware of the problems created by isolation. Concerned about the abuse of liquor, lawlessness, and young people growing up without "moral training," Creech wanted a school established not only for academics, but also for teaching people how to live and work with their hands.
Creech had heard of the Hindman Settlement School that Katherine Pettit had started. Therefore, he and some neighbors visited the school and were impressed. He offered Pettit some of his land, promising to recruit contributions of lumber, ox teams, days of labor, and money to help establish a new school. As a co-worker in the new venture, Pettit chose Ethel DeLong, a New Jersey native, who had joined the staff of the Hindman school. After meeting with Creech and his wife, Sal, they realized they had similar ideas about education.
Pine Mountain School was incorporated in 1913. A board of trustees was formed to help guide school policies, oversee the property, and raise money. It opened with a few children, a handful of teachers, some helpers from Hindman, and a nurse. A borrowed house, a Masonic Lodge, some tents, and a small abandoned log house served as living quarters. Neighbors began construction of the "Big Log House" as a dwelling for future students. Mary Rockwell Hook was the architect who planned the development of the property.
By necessity, Pine Mountain was a boarding school. In addition to the lack of roads, the school wanted to have the children in residence in order to give them "an education for life." It became a community day school in 1949, and changed to environmental education in 1972.