There Is An Abandoned Town In Kentucky That Most People Are Unaware


Although Kentucky is a state full of natural beauty and historical significance, it also has a darker side. There are numerous abandoned towns scattered throughout its picturesque scenery and gently sloping hills that have been forgotten by time and development.

While some of these ghost towns are well-known—like the notorious Waverly Hills Sanatorium or the Old Taylor Distillery—others are less well-known and kept out of sight. One such town is Barthell, a former coal mining village that is now in ruins and decay after formerly being a flourishing and successful community.

The Ascent and Descent of Barthell

The Stearns Coal and Lumber Company, which ran a number of mines and logging camps in McCreary County, founded Barthell in 1902. Joseph Barthell, the company’s first resident engineer and supervisor, is honored with the town’s name. Barthell expanded rapidly to become a thriving town with a peak population of more than 500.

The town featured a railroad station, a post office, a school, a church, a hotel, a company store, a barbershop, and a doctor’s office. The residences were owned by the firm and rented to the inhabitants on a monthly basis. In addition, the town boasted a theater organization, a brass band, and a baseball club that offered relaxation and entertainment to the laborers and their families.

But the coal business, which was prone to ups and downs, was the town’s main source of income. Two workers were killed and numerous more were injured when a fire broke out in one of the mines in 1925. The infrastructure and equipment of the mine were also harmed by the fire, which prompted the firm to shut it down. Due to worker migration to neighboring towns or mines, the town’s population started to fall.

The 1930s Great Depression had a significant impact on the coal sector as well, lowering coal prices and decreasing demand. After battling to stay afloat, the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company sold its holdings to the Blue Diamond Coal Company in 1937.

The remaining Barthell mines were still run by the Blue Diamond Coal Company, albeit less successfully and efficiently. The number of people living in the town decreased even more as more departed in pursuit of better possibilities. As a result of cost-cutting measures and maintenance neglect, the town’s amenities and services also declined.

The railroad bridge that linked Barthell to the outside world was destroyed by a flood in 1952, dealing the final blow. The corporation made the decision to leave the town as it was essentially isolated. In 1961, the final inhabitants departed, taking with them their houses and possessions.

The Ghost Town of Today

Barthell lay neglected and forsaken for more than twenty years until the Koger family purchased the property in 1984 and made the decision to revitalize the town as a historical site.

The doctor’s office, hotel, and company shop were among the structures that the family refurbished and made into guestrooms for the night. In addition, they constructed a gift store, a museum, and a model railroad station. In 1989, the community reopened as the Barthell Coal Mining Camp to the general public.

Barthell is currently one of the few abandoned coal mining sites in Kentucky that has been conserved and made accessible to visitors. In addition to taking in the surrounding area’s breathtaking natural beauty, visitors may learn about the town’s history and culture.

The town has equestrian riding, fishing, camping, hiking trails, and guided excursions available. Special events including concerts, festivals, and reenactments are also held in the town. Barthell is a singular and intriguing location that provides a window into history and an opportunity to understand the hardships and way of life of the coal miners and their families.

Read More: This Ohio City Has Been Named the Murder Capital of State


There are a lot of abandoned villages in Kentucky that have been left to the whims of time and the elements. While some of these communities are secret and unknown, others are well-known and well-liked. One of the latter is Barthell, a once-rich and bustling coal mining town that is now reduced to rubble and desolation. Nonetheless, the town has been revitalized and rebuilt as a historic site that highlights the history and culture of the coal mining era because of the Koger family’s efforts. Most people are unaware of Barthell as a ghost town, but anyone interested in the history and legacy of Kentucky should pay it a visit.

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