Saturday, April 26, 2008

The History of Lyon County Kentucky - Part 5

[Pictures on this page: 1) “People gathered at the Mineral springs to take water home for the evening.” This picture shows small children, men in hats, women in dresses and several of them with cups, drinking from the springs. And 2) “Camp meetings were held at the springs”. This picture shows a pavilion chairs inside and out, filled with people.]

Kuttawa citizens being education conscious, in 1900 established Century Normal College which served Lyon and surrounding counties with distinction until 1910.

One mile northwest of Kuttawa there was a cluster of five mineral springs within 500 feet of each other. At this spot, there was a beautiful valley on the east side of Knob Creek, and on the west side a gently sloping hillside. This was an ideal place for a resort. A group of Kuttawa businessmen formed the Kuttawa Springs Corporation. A hotel was constructed in 1909 and people came from far and near to relax in the shade and drink and bathe in the mineral waters.

A restaurant was constructed, specializing in the finest barbecue. Cabins were built around the rim of the hillside and youth groups would come and spend a week camping. Tennis courts and other sports facilities were provided. A swimming pool was constructed – one of the finest outside of the larger cities.

A large open air pavilion was constructed for religious services and other types of meetings. The first two weeks in August each year a great Camp Meeting was held under the auspices of the Methodist Church. Second Sunday, called Homecoming, sometimes drew as many as 5,000 people. Many large political meetings were held there, when candidates would mount the stump.

Kuttawa Mineral Springs was a widely known resort area and served religious, political and social functions until its demise upon the construction of Barkley Lake.

Upon the coming of World War I, Lyon County’s native sons answered the call with honor and many received recognition and awards. Following World War I, Lyon County entered a period of gradual decline. To find work, many young people made their way to the north to find jobs in the factories.

In 1937, the highest natural flood ever recorded covered the entire Ohio and Mississippi watershed. Eddyville and Kuttawa were both built on the bank of the Cumberland River. The towns were located just two miles apart. This flood brought great destruction, property loss, hardship and misery. The two towns never completely recovered from this natural disaster.

Prior to the flood, a high dam on the Tennessee River had been discussed and proposed in Congress. The great flood brought new and greater emphasis to this project. This dam and lake were proposed to help control flooding, improve navigation and supply hydro-electric power.

Many people and government agencies contributed to this project. Senator and Vice President Alben W. Barkley and Luther Draffen of Calvert City made great contributions. Kentucky Dan and Lake on the Tennessee River became a reality and was dedicated by President Harry Truman in 1944.

In the humble judgement of this writer, the construction of Kentucky Dam and Lake has made the greatest impact on Lyon County of anything in its history. The production of hydro-electric power at Kentucky Dam, along with the good West Kentucky leadershipi brought industrial plants to the Calvert City area The plants brought good jobs and Lyon County workers were eager for the jobs and made good workers.

The millions of dollars of payroll has brought Lyon County from a stgruggling and poor farming county to a middle class and proud community. The economic benefits and standard of living and quality of life have been multiplied many fold in Lyon County. All one neds to confirm this stand is to have had the opportunity to travel through Lyon County in the 1930’s and travel across the same area today.

The network of modern roads replacing the dirt roads, the beautiful and comfortable homes with neatly kept lawns, the business climate and recreational opportunities boggle the mind.

[pictures on this page: 1) “The flood of 1937 devastate old Eddyville and Kuttawa.” It shows a a street in Eddyville near the Mays Motor Co., under water. 2) “A crowd shot from old Kuttawa in the early years”. This photo shows a completely packed street, crowded with people, with some people on the porch and the second floor porch of the Kuttawa Hotel. 3) “A photo of one of the old hotels in Lyon County possibly shows some of our ancestors.” This picture looks like the same hotel as in picture 2. The people are lined up on the porch, and in front of the building, in chairs and sitting on the ground, all posing for the picture.]

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