Kiwanis Trail

Historical marker #1517 in Whitley County celebrates the Kiwanis Trail that connects Corbin to the Cumberland Falls.

The Cumberland Falls is a large waterfall in southeastern Kentucky. On October 21, 1921, the Corbin Kiwanis Club was founded and began their work helping the Corbin community. Many in the area wanted to visit the Cumberland Falls but the site could only be accessed through McCreary County. On July 10, 1927, the Road Committee of the Corbin Kiwanis Club made the first round trip from Corbin to the Falls. Wade H. Candler, the local Ford dealer, altered a special car to make this trail blazing trip. The committee was composed of Candler, Tom W. Gallagher, I. O. “Sonny” Chitwood and Robert A. Blair.

This historic trip gave the Kiwanis Club an idea to build a road, passable by cars, to the Cumberland Falls. Several planning excursions were made after the first trip to the site. With the preparations made, both men and women worked together for about two months to complete the trail. They finished their work on September 22, 1927. In addition to the road, they constructed a wooden bridge made from 1,200 trees. The bridge spanned the gap on the ridge that completed the last seven miles to the Falls. The opening day of the trail brought out Kentucky’s Governor William J. Field, a parade of five hundred cars, and the Corbin Kiwanis Brass Band. The governor drove a golden spike into the bridge during this ceremony. The dirt and trees moved to make this trail through Whitley County opened the Falls up for many new visitors and their cars.

Only a few months later, in November 1927, Thomas C. DuPont offered to buy the Cumberland Falls for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Finally, in March 1930, the General Assembly passed measures to allow the gift and purchase. This action ensured the preservation of the Falls and allowed it to become a state park.