Century of Coal Mining

Historical Marker #1338 in Hopkins County celebrates Earlington, a western Kentucky coal town.

Founded in 1870 by the St. Bernard Coal Co., Earlington was named for John B. Earle, who was credited with having stuck the first pick into the hillside at the opening of Hopkins County's first commercial coal mine. Shortly after the town was founded, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad completed its line from Henderson to Earlington, and became the primary hauler in the area.

The development of Earlington can most readily be attributed to St. Bernard Coal Company's second president, John B. Atkinson. Originally from New Jersey, Atkinson taught school before becoming a civil engineer. He relocated to Kentucky from Boston in 1871 to take charge of mining operations at Earlington. He eventually became president of the company.

Because of his background in education, it is no surprise that Atkinson placed a great deal of emphasis on schools in Earlington. Under his leadership, local schools gained substantial support from his company. A modern building for each the grade school and high school were built and furnished at the expense of St. Bernard. Other amenities offered at Earlington included housing, a library, an arboretum, and churches.